Improve Your Budget I.Q.

With a government shutdown looking more and more likely, one might begin to wonder what could be taking Republicans and Democrats so long to reach a consensus on the federal budget. However, making budget cuts isn't ever politically easy - especially when the American public seems to believe the government spends much more than it actually does on unpopular programs. According to a recent CNN poll, while Americans surveyed correctly estimated the amount the government spends on more politically popular programs like Social Security, they tended to overestimate the amount spent on less popular spending programs. For example, as the table below shows, Americans estimated that 10% of the federal budget is spent on foreign aid, while in reality, it makes up less than 1% of it. This presents a problem to politicians, as there is little public support for cutting programs like Social Security, but cutting unpopular programs like foreign aid and public broadcasting would make much less of a dent in the deficit than the American public believes.

Want to see how much you would reduce the deficit if you made budget cuts? The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget has created an online simulator in whcih you can choose among budget choices to try to try to "stabilize the U.S. debt":

Posted by Brittany
SSDAN Office

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