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  This is a brief diary.  Here is a worthwhile diversion for a Sunday:  the New York Times has an interactive graphic with a menu of spending cuts and tax increases from which you can select to "fix the deficit" in both 2015 and 2030.  I encourage everybody to go over and spend a few minutes with this interactive graphic.

The interacctive graphic shows that Simply returning to Clinton-era tax rates, including repeal of the Bush tax cuts, reduces the deficit by more than half in 2015 and by about 30% in 2030.  Simply choose reining in medical costs and most of both deficits vanishes.  Get the US troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan and you are almost home.

In addition to those items, I selected a bank tax, a "millionaire's tax", and reductions in foreign aid, farm subsidies, and earmarks, and I had completely fixed the deficit with room to spare.  

In short, reversing all of Bush's decisions, and capping medical benefits is almost all that needs to be done to fix this country's fiscal problems, without a single change to Social Security, and the NY Times interactive graphic shows it.  I encourage you to click on the link and see for yourself.

Originally posted to New Deal democrat on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 05:33 AM PST.

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    "When the going gets tough, the tough get 'too big to fail'."

    by New Deal democrat on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 05:33:29 AM PST

      •  Good one. Bush was a disaster on so many levels. (17+ / 0-)

        Learn more about second-class U.S. citizenship at http://www.equalitymatters.org

        by Larry Bailey on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 07:00:17 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  If we have gridlock, and none of the bush taxcuts (6+ / 0-)

          If we have gridlock, and none of the bush taxcuts or his estate tax are renewed before Dec 31, 2011, for anyone, that alone pays down more than half of the national debt!!

          Honestly I'm for that, if we can't decouple the taxcut to just those making under 250,000, I would rather that none of the bush tax cuts get renewed, the estate tax doesn't get renewed, and we use that money to pay down half the debt.

          Then it's simply a matter of ending the two wars, returning troop levels to pre-war levels and making a few cuts to the defense budget, and we can balance the budget.

          Alternatively, we can also lift the payroll tax cap.

        •  When I see people claiming that Obama ran up (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          alizard, hilltopper, kyril, NWTerriD

          The deficit, it really burns me. Most of that is him actually adding in the wars, which Bush kept out as "emergency" funding so it didn't show in the "official" deficit.

          I put in several tax hikes on the wealthy like the banks and the financial sector, partly because that's the only way to get them to invest in companies that create jobs again, instead of the gambling they do now.

          You can discover what your enemy fears most by observing the means he uses to frighten you. - Eric Hoffer

          by splashy on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 09:37:36 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks n/t (15+ / 0-)

        I wish there were a way to do something more with this, like polling which selectioins people made (DK's poll option isn't up to the task).

        And then delivering the results to Congress and the White House.

        Thanks again.

        "When the going gets tough, the tough get 'too big to fail'."

        by New Deal democrat on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 07:03:56 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I want my Congress critters to do this, then (12+ / 0-)

          issue a press release. All the Representatives and the two Senators in the state. A comparison of all the USA critters would be very interesting.

        •  NYT bullshit, no option to lift payroll tax cap (9+ / 0-)

          Both the fiscal commission and the NY Times take the option of lifting the paytoll tax cap on social security off the table, when it is widely discussed.

          Instead, they discuss a 90% of earnings compromise that simply takes us back to the levels from 1982.

          Am I the only one who smells a rat here?

          http://sanders.senate.gov/...

          •  Yes, there it. It is right here (21+ / 0-)

            Payroll tax: Subject some incomes above $106,000 to tax
            When the payroll tax – which finances Social Security and Medicare – was created, it covered 90 percent of all income. Today, with a ceiling at $106,800, it covers closer to 80 percent. This option would gradually raise the ceiling, until 90 percent of income was again subject to the tax.

            This is one of the options I chose because it makes payroll taxes less regressive.

            •  But you are right, they did not (12+ / 0-)

              completely lift the cap. As noted below, I think that the list only deals with things that are on the table right now.

              •  Because completely lifting the cap (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Sparhawk, Winnie, leftywright, erush1345

                doesn't save all that much money.  Under the structure of SS, retirement benefits are tied to how much, in wages, you pay taxes on.  So, lifting the cap means increasing payouts to retirees at the upper end of the income scale.  It's a progressive increase, so the proportional relationship between what you pay in and what you get in retirement benefits is closer at the lower end of income levels, but there's no getting around the fact that, under the fundamental basic structure of SS, raising the cap means increasing retirement payouts to the wealthy.

                Unless you propose changing the fundamental and basic nature of the SS program from the way that FDR and others have been selling it to the American public for generations.  

                •  Figured you'd chime in about this (6+ / 0-)

                  and you didn't disappoint.

                  Oh dear; they might kick in proportionately more, and get proportionately less. They've had it pretty goddamn good in this country for the last thirty years. Why do they whine so when our collective largess towards them helped get us into this financial mess???

                  Why are you reflexively defending the rich? Again!

                  •  Do you favor decoupling (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Winnie, erush1345

                    SS retirement benefits from the amount of wages on which SS taxes are based?  Do you think a fundamental change in the nature of SS has a chance of getting through Congress?  After all, when GWB tried to change the nature of SS, not even the majority of Republicans supported it.  

                    •  Two quotes from the Wall Street Journal (8+ / 0-)

                      I would not support a credit towards benefits for additional taxable earnings about the current cap.  Obviously it goes beyond providing for "security" to becoming a tax free retirement plan if you do so.
                      Anyway here are two more Wall Street Journal quotes:

                      http://sanders.senate.gov/...

                      "The data suggest that the payroll tax ceiling hasn't kept up with the growth in executive pay. As executive pay has increased, the percentage of wages subject to payroll taxes has shrunk, to 83% from 90% in 1982. Compensation that isn't subject to the portion of payroll tax that funds old-age benefits now represents foregone revenue of $115 billion a year."

                      "Social Security Administration actuaries estimate removing the earnings ceiling could eliminate the trust fund's deficit altogether for the next 75 years, or nearly eliminate it if credit toward benefits was provided for the additional taxable earnings."

                  •  Convert Social Security to a welfare program (9+ / 0-)

                    and you will set the stage for its eventual demise. If there isn't a relationship between payments into the system and benefits received, it's no longer insurance, it's welfare, and it will be cut, and cut, and cut until it no longer exists.

                    •  Who said convert to a welfare program? (3+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Big Tex, neroden, AuroraDawn

                      Raising the cap should not be conflated to welfare program conversion. Now, if you means-tested beneficiaries based on wage income, then yes, we do indeed slouch in that direction.

                      Here is my principle: Taxes shall be levied according to ability to pay.
                      That is the only American principle.

                      ~Franklin D. Roosevelt

                      •  If you raise the cap without correspondingly (0+ / 0-)

                        raising the maximum level of benefits, then you've converted it into a welfare program.

                        •  Nope (0+ / 0-)

                          Not how it works. Try again.

                          •  LOL (0+ / 0-)

                            That's your supporting evidence? Inconclusive and insufficient.

                            Here you go.

                          •  Wow, you call my link . . . (0+ / 0-)

                            . . . "inconclusive and insufficient" and then you post a link to a speech that has nothing to do with what we're talking about?

                            Look, SS is a retirement insurance program. You pay in, you get back. The more you pay in, the more you get back. You don't pay anything in, and you don't get anything back. If you pay in the max, you get back the max.

                            If they raise the max that you can pay in, they have to raise the max that you can get back. If they don't do that, then you are into a different type of program, where people pay in according to their ability, and get back according to their need. That's how welfare programs work -- progressive taxation, and means-tested benefits.

                            There's nothing wrong with that from my perspective of course, but if you can't see that welfare programs have a much sketchier basis of support than something like social security, then you're just willfully blind. If you make it into a welfare program, you are writing its death sentence.

                          •  In any insurance program (0+ / 0-)

                            There can be, but not necessarily be, a proportional relationship between monthly premiums paid in and monthly benefits paid out.

                            To presume otherwise and then declare that that would automatically define SS as a 'welfare program' is fallacious. Every qualifying benefciary will get a monthly check. To flatten the inherent regressivity of
                            the premium stream does NOT make SS a welfare program.

                            Did you know that current SS premium contributors are funding both their own and their parents' benefits? Try calling SS a welfare program to my Republican mom; advisedly out of arm's reach.

                            Here is my principle: Taxes shall be levied according to ability to pay. That is the only American principle.

                            ~Franklin D. Roosevelt    

                          •  What's "funding" what is all fiction (0+ / 0-)

                            SS premiums have been funding the entire federal government for decades, and there are billions (trillions?) in "IOU's" sitting there instead of the money.

                            And decisions may be made to renege on those IOU's, at which time SS will be a welfare program. But until that happens, there's still a direct relationship between premiums and benefits, which makes it not a welfare program.

                          •  Alrighty (0+ / 0-)

                            And decisions may be made to renege on those IOU's, at which time SS will be a welfare program. But until that happens, there's still a direct relationship between premiums and benefits, which makes it not a welfare program

                            Raising the cap would alter the proportional relationship between premiums and benefits, not the direct. Therefore, in your own words, "which makes it not a welfare program."

                            Also, those IOUs are special Treasuries, not available to the general market. SS can redeem those at any time. The feds cannot "renege" on those Treasuries without defaulting, and that's a decision the global bond markets in general, World Bank and IMF in particular simply won't allow.

                            You vocabulary reveals the trollish direction of your commentary. Thanks for your honesty :)

                          •  They won't raise the cap without raising (0+ / 0-)

                            benefits also, in proportion. That's why raising the cap isn't really discussed that much, because it doesn't help the whole picture. Now, if they choose to go down that path of raising the cap without raising benefits, they can surely do that, but in my opinion, they will be signing the death warrant for Social Security as a politically popular government social program.

                            What "vocabulary" are you referring to?

                          •  More (0+ / 0-)

                            Here is more.

                            So do you assert that by only raising the cap, and not the benefit level, that that automatically makes SS a welfare program? Sounds like a reichwing squawking point...

                          •  Your link proves my point (0+ / 0-)

                            People will defend it to the death because they don't perceive it as a welfare program. People perceive that the beneficiaries rightfully earned their benefits through lifetimes of hard work.

                    •  Right now its welfare(albeit small) for the rich (0+ / 0-)

                      the taxes you pay end at the cap while benefits have no such cap. someone making 500K gets more SS then someone paying 200K but they pay the same taxes into SS

                      That quote about GDP by Robert Kennedy

                      by erichiro on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 03:02:10 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                •  So change the ratio on SS payout. (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  catdevotee, neroden

                  If I recall correctly there are now three progressions in payout calculations, with the highest percent for the lowest level of personal income and lesser percent on personal income above that. Those percentages could easily be adjusted, or a third level added. That third level could be .01% of income earned on on the top levels of income.

                  That's an easy fix that would satisfy those who oppose means testing, and it would add more money to the trust fund.

                  Slavery is the legal fiction that a person is property. Corporate personhood is the legal fiction that property is a person. -Jan Edwards

                  by SoCalSal on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 02:20:11 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                •  According to SSA actuaries, (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  neroden

                  getting rid of the cap would entirely eliminate the $5.3 trillion shortfall that Social Security is projected to have over the next 75 years.  This is without raising the retirement age, raising the tax rate, or doing anything to the way that the program  currently calculates benefits.  So no, it's not true that completely lifting the cap doesn't save all that much money.

                  Proud member of the unpaid "professional left" since 8/10/2010 / Viva Canadian healthcare! Death to the Pentagon! Free Mumia!

                  by Big Tex on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 04:14:10 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  No, if you go to the SS actuary (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    valion

                    tables underneath that article, it assumes that SS taxes increase but that benefits don't proportionately increase in the way that they presently do under the law.  

                    In essences, it would mean decoupling the calculation of retirement benefits from the present link to the amount of wages on which one pays tax.  

                    Yes, it eliminates the shortfall.  And yes, it changes the nature of the program, so that it is no longer a "you get what you pay for" program.  (Ask any senior why they are entitled to SS, and they will tell you, "I only want what I paid for all these years.")  

                    •  I don't see an actuary table (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      joynow, neroden

                      under the article, and I haven't found a link to it in the article itself, so I'm not sure what you're referring to.  But the article doesn't say that the scenario in which the cap is eliminated would require changing the way that benefits are currently calculated in order to eliminate the $5.3 trillion shortfall.

                      As for the idea that getting rid of the cap on taxable wages would somehow fundamentally alter the nature of the program because the rich would no longer "get what they pay for," there's already a maximum SS benefit under current law.  And the formula that's used to calculate benefits is set up so that low wage earners get back more in benefits than high wage earners do in relation to what they paid in.  It's retirement insurance, not an investment.

                      Proud member of the unpaid "professional left" since 8/10/2010 / Viva Canadian healthcare! Death to the Pentagon! Free Mumia!

                      by Big Tex on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 08:05:42 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

              •  Yeah, it's agenda-setting... (5+ / 0-)

                ...because proscriptions are limited to a narrow range of possible solutions. Look at the healthcare options:

                Enact medical malpractice reform

                Increase the Medicare eligibility age to 68

                Increase the Medicare eligibility age to 70

                Reduce the tax break for employer-provided health insurance

                Cap Medicare growth starting in 2013

                Er, that's it? Reminds me of those games we'd play as a kid: "If you had to choose, would you rather go blind or deaf?"

                •  I checked reducing the tax break for employer (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  James Kresnik

                  provided health insurance and none of the others...I'm sure you can do it without checking any of those, if you're willing to cut more in other areas.

                  Actually the choices demonstrate some interesting scenarios, and make it clear that the Republicans favored strategies (like tort reform and cutting federal agencies) yeild smaller savings than cutting the military...also that it's easier to balance the budget with tax increases (duh!) than tax cuts.

                  "All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out." --I.F. Stone

                  by Alice in Florida on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 03:28:12 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

              •  Need to balance the various measures (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                sweettp2063, James Kresnik

                If the SS cap is completely lifted, that means that there is a 6.2% tax increase on income over $106,800.  Then if you add on top of that a marginal tax boost of 35% to 39.5% on all earned income for the top bracket you are up to an increase of 10.2%, then make dividends fully taxable as ordinary income there is a 24.5% tax increase on dividend income.  And limit the mortgage deduction for high-end taxpayers.  Pretty soon people who make, say, up to $500,000 are facing some pretty hefty increases.

                That's why I liked the millionaires' tax for the really rich, and I modified some of the income tax increases.

                But anyone can balance the budget by opting for the Medicare cap, ending farm subsidies and some military cuts, then a few tax increases on upper income people and it's done.  Medicare alone gets you over half way there.  And I say this as a Medicare and SS recipient.  We need to recognize that we can't live forever and the most important thing is relieving pain and not consuming too many resources on the way out.

                The scientific uncertainty doesn't mean that climate change isn't actually happening.

                by Mimikatz on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 10:46:22 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  I played TNut for a minute, (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Akonitum, SoCalSal

                  added the Medicare Cap and cut every social program I saw and provided for no tax increases and I still had to put down for a national sales tax. Neil Boortz would love this:

                  http://www.nytimes.com/...

                  Next, I put on the hippie hat and tried to avoid any cuts to programs for the poor and middle class. I also rolled back all military expansion. I had to roll back all tax cuts, including the middle-class tax cut:

                  http://www.nytimes.com/...

                  Finally, I put on my ideological leftist libertarian hat and slashed what I consider the areas of greatest government over-reach over the past few decades, regardless of the spending or revenue area. The result is reducing the size of government and rapidly paying off the debt, clawing back global capital's ill-gotten gains, and being the least popular guy at any party:

                  http://www.nytimes.com/...

                  Every politician in America is sounding like that mayor in Jaws. -global citizen

                  by James Kresnik on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 12:03:16 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

              •  That wasn't too painful to get to balanced (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                AuroraDawn

                budget  Lke this

                Demand Filibuster Reform call your Senators at (202) 224-3121 -AND KEEP CALLING

                by Lefty Coaster on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 12:46:27 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  There is really no need to cut foreign aid... (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Karl Rover

                  Or cut aid to the States. We can "fix" the budget without doing that.
                  Of course, they would never agree to my plan.

                  All of us driven by a simple belief that the world as it is just won't do - that we have an obligation to fight for the world as it should be ~ Michelle Obama

                  by AuroraDawn on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 02:36:45 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Cut aid to the states (0+ / 0-)

                    because too many States refuse to deal with their dysfunctional, regressive, corporate-friendly fiscal policies. They need to learn that the government is not getting them any more free ponies.

                    Every politician in America is sounding like that mayor in Jaws. -global citizen

                    by James Kresnik on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 06:16:29 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  So everyone in the state should suffer.... (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      neroden

                      because their governor and/or legislators happen to be corporatist ass-hats? That seems unfair. And what about those states that don't fit your stereo-type?

                      All of us driven by a simple belief that the world as it is just won't do - that we have an obligation to fight for the world as it should be ~ Michelle Obama

                      by AuroraDawn on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 08:24:45 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

            •  you know it seems so easy (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              neroden

              just looking at it I was able to pick an array of things that was roughly fifty/fifty on raising taxes and cutting spending and didn't  touch a whole lot of sacred cows and deficit was gone in both 2015 and 2030.

          •  I smell lots of rats (8+ / 0-)

            Many problems not addressed and solutions not offered: exploitation of undocumented workers and outsourcing subsidies, who pays into the tax system, trade deficits/NAFTA issues, many more military spending options, single payer options, the entirety of the corporate tax structure... on and on.

          •  Lifting the cap won't happen. It should (0+ / 0-)

            be raised but not lifted.  It just becomes an income tax if it's lifted.

            I don't belong to an organized party, I'm a democrat.

            by thestructureguy on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 06:12:33 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Yes (5+ / 0-)

          Because I don't think we should be cutting Foreign Aid.  Just saying.

          •  I was able to close the deficit without cutting (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Ellinorianne

            foreign aid--I don't seem to be able to link to my choices, but the bottom line of my plan (biggest military cuts and biggest tax increases were key) was 38% spending cuts, 62% tax increases.

            "All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out." --I.F. Stone

            by Alice in Florida on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 03:40:06 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Oh, don't you think we could create (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          cruz

          good enough poll options to show how kossacks would balance the budget by 2015?

          I just did it. let's design the poll questions.

    •  Glad you caught that NYT interactive (26+ / 0-)

      I took the test, before I wandered over here, and I fixed the deficit, too! Many of the same choices, and I did avoid trying to put more burden on us not-super-wealthy people. Except maybe a 5% national sales tax.

      Why is this so hard for Congress? We all know why, but it would be nice if NYT will show response breakdown.

      Americans, while occasionally willing to be serfs, have always been obstinate about being peasantry. F. Scott Fitzgerald, the Great Gatsby

      by riverlover on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 07:08:55 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Its not brain surgery to fix the budget crisis (36+ / 0-)

        But, it takes guts to do the right thing, and to take the candy from the fat rich cats who are paying off politicians.

        End the wars, stop spending so much on the military & raise taxes.

        It would solve so many problems, and preserve education, infrastructure and the social services that are important for a progressive society to maintain for the welfare of its citizens.

        "The Public Option = Peace of Mind for all Citizens."      -- R.L.

        by Canaryinthecoalmine on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 08:01:43 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I've been saying this for years n/t (5+ / 0-)

          Cynicism leads to Inactivity. Hope leads to Action.

          by Citizenpower on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 08:27:39 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  What about a sugar tax? (5+ / 0-)

          We're consuming on average 70 lbs per person a year and getting sicker for it. At $1 tax per pound - that's 2 billion in tax revenue and a myriad of cost reduction in health expenses. It simplifies the corn syrup subsidies too. Many problems are addressed including prescription drugs for cholesterol and child obesity.

          My point is: A LOT of things are not in the report that should be. From corporate tax structures in the Caymans and tariffs or trade deficits to undocumented resident tax contributions.

          •  Sugar tariffs got us HFCS (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            James Kresnik

            IIRC high tariffs on imported sugar, which was much cheaper than domestic sugar, is why food manufacturers turned to high fuctrose corn syrup.

            The intent was to support domestic growers (er, companies). It didn't impact in a positive way from either the perspective of domestic Big Sugar or domestic Sugar-phobics. It may have made it worse as HFCS is now in foods that never contained sugar.

            I think this is the problem with "simple" solutions: they lead to unforeseen and unintended consequences. Tax sugar and fuel HFCS or chemical sweeteners of dubious benefit.  

            As for changing dietary habits, I know in my part of the nation junk and fast food is now routinely sneered at by the younger (middle class+) generation. Of course, they seem to think that if a label says "Healthy!" it is, but there are more salads and fruit than candy bars and burgers on my campus. It would be embarrassing to be seen stepping into the McDonald's across the street. A tax that could lead to a New and Improved! untaxed sweetener like HFCS might not be necessary :)

        •  how true esp. "raise taxes" (6+ / 0-)

          The wealthy in America have had a free ride relative to others, and the result is the deficit. That so much energy is devoted to returning to rates just 3% higher shows how dysfunctional the system is. (PS: My family income probably puts me in a high bracket - it's not just self-interest.)

          I personally think the whole Bush tax cut should be allowed to lapse, and then other things to help stimulate the economy could be considered as the numbers would look better.

          Something Krugman once pointed out is that a big part of the problem right now is the collapse in intake of revenues due to the economic crisis. The fact that the worst news will go way once the economy improves is lost in the noise.

          the future begins

          by zozie on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 09:56:17 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Here's a real crompomise: (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            neroden

            The rich get their Medicare caps and malpractice reform, and the working class get rollbacks on all tax breaks for the wealthy, an elimination of corporate loopholes, a claw-back through the millionaire tax, a bank tax and no military bail-out every time one of their foreign investment schemes politically backfire.

            Any debt commission lead my me would be over in two hours. I hate meetings.

            Every politician in America is sounding like that mayor in Jaws. -global citizen

            by James Kresnik on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 12:13:16 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  No, its fix medicare (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          James Kresnik

          Do that and you are nearly there.  Then end farm subsidies, add some military cuts and tax increases and you don't even have to touch SS.

          The scientific uncertainty doesn't mean that climate change isn't actually happening.

          by Mimikatz on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 10:48:11 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  My Brother in Law is a Farmer! (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            WisVoter, neroden, James Kresnik

            I got there without touching domestic spending or foreign aid. Probably the most controversial thing I did was link the growth of Medicare to GDP, that was a huge difference. Otherwise did not touch entitlements. Shut down weapons system purchases, and reduced military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan.

            Then returning to Clinton era tax rates coupled with a carbon, millionaire, and bank tax and wallah deficit gone!

            Truth be known, I think we need to return to pre Reagan tax structures, and we could really grow this economy!

            I agree that many options are not available, and some linking makes other options unusable in this model.

            •  The danger is that (0+ / 0-)

              too many tax increases will hit the upper-middle class hard and fast, causing them to freak out. This is why I chose to roll back all the taxes that benefit the Richistani and kept most, but not all of the Middle-Class tax reductions.

              Every politician in America is sounding like that mayor in Jaws. -global citizen

              by James Kresnik on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 06:23:24 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

      •  A national sales tax, on top of local and (15+ / 0-)

        state sales taxes, is a regressive tax. Would you tax food? Items used to grow food? Medicines? Clothes over a certain amount? Less tax on green appliances?

        In MA food, items to grow food, medicines, are not taxed. Clothing items over a certain amount are luxury taxed.

        •  Absolutely agee! (8+ / 0-)

          I've often thought that a luxury tax would be a good thing to be implemented. I'd add a luxury tax to yachts, private airplanes, champagne, new expensive cars, houses costing more than $500K (or pick a different number), swimming pools.....the possibilities are almost endless (prime meat instead of choice?).

          "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." ~ Mencken

          by royce on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 09:07:05 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  $500K is the median price of houses in (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            politicalfan, erush1345

            Fairfax and Loudoun Counties in Virginia, and we are definitely NOT 50% wealthy

            "There's a fine line between clever and stupid." This Is Spinal Tap

            by ebirch1 on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 10:20:41 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I knew the price might be 'off.' (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              neroden, erush1345

              It would be very hard to establish a definition of luxury - and a class warfare might result (as if there isn't already one). For someone who can buy a $23 million house, $500K sounds like the slums. For someone who can only buy a $100K house, $500K sounds outrageous. And for someone who can't buy any house, $100K sounds huge. Life is complicated.

              "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." ~ Mencken

              by royce on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 01:13:10 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  might help bring down house prices there (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              neroden

              "slip now and you'll fall the rest of your life" Derek Hersey 1957-1993

              by ban nock on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 04:53:13 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  That's why I didn't go for that choice. It did (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          neroden, James Kresnik, MizC, barkingcat

          not exempt groceries, prescriptions, health services.  A sales tax would not have to be regressive, but they generally are.  It would have to be structured to apply in varying amounts to varying things or to various costs of things.  For example, don't tax car sales under $15,000, but tax highly on those over $50,000.  Exemptions for certain things that are less harmful to the environment.  To make it a progressive tax would take a lot of complexity in administration.  It could become a burden to the vendor who is not being paid to do the govt's work of tax collection and figuring.

          I was wise enough to never grow up while fooling most people into believing I had. - Margaret Mead

          by fayea on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 09:39:53 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  It might be but I went through and tried to do it (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          zedaker

          without one and it does not work.  I cut military spending to the bone, did not touch SS or Medicare and every tax on the rich(payroll, estate, repeal of other taxes) and I still needed to include that one.  A sales tax cannot be evaded. It is probably necessary.  We have to get real in this effort or we are going to have make old people eat cat food.

          "When fascism comes to America, it'll be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross." Sinclair Lewis

          by lakehillsliberal on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 09:50:36 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I ws able to get surpluses w/o this (6+ / 0-)

            "There's a fine line between clever and stupid." This Is Spinal Tap

            by ebirch1 on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 10:21:29 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I did not touch Medicare or SS except to add (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              neroden, James Kresnik, SNFinVA

              the payroll tax.  If you touch Medicare then you can evade it.  

              "When fascism comes to America, it'll be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross." Sinclair Lewis

              by lakehillsliberal on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 10:53:53 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  if the medicare cap (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                high uintas, James Kresnik, MizC, SNFinVA

                actually limited Medicare i wouldn't have added it, but it doesn't appear to do that. it does appear to limit healthcare profiteering which i tend to view as similar to war profiteering as something that should be limited if not outright criminalized.

                "Liberalism is trust of the people, tempered by prudence; conservatism, distrust of people, tempered by fear." Gladstone, Me -8.88/-7.08

                by zedaker on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 11:04:14 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  I didn't add it because I think it is a (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  zedaker, James Kresnik, barkingcat

                  non-starter but it is one or the other.  Either we cap Medicare or we add the sales tax, pick your poison.

                  "When fascism comes to America, it'll be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross." Sinclair Lewis

                  by lakehillsliberal on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 11:10:46 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  i see your point (3+ / 0-)

                    but before i clicked the cap box i had reduced the 2030 deficit to somewhere around 300B and i'd like to point out that there was no option for removing the reduced capital gains tax and taxing those gains as regular income. i suspect that would make the difference and then some, and it isn't regressive.

                    "Liberalism is trust of the people, tempered by prudence; conservatism, distrust of people, tempered by fear." Gladstone, Me -8.88/-7.08

                    by zedaker on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 11:50:01 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                •  I chose the cap on Medicare spending (7+ / 0-)

                  Having cared for my late mom for a long time I learned just how much money is bled from the system on procedures that do zip for the patient. The elderly are money cows for HC  providers.

                  In the 24 hrs prior to mom's death every Dr. on staff at the hosp. ordered tests that included everything but a pregnancy test when she was clearly dying. They all got paid with Medicare dollars. There has to be a better system.

                  "Take it back, take it back. Oh no you can't say that, all of my friends are not dead or in jail." John Prine

                  by high uintas on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 11:49:25 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I agree and if we could do it in a rational way, (4+ / 0-)

                    I would completely agree.  I would like to see the processes put in place before we add the cap and not use the cap to force the costs down.  Use better policy to do that.

                    "When fascism comes to America, it'll be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross." Sinclair Lewis

                    by lakehillsliberal on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 11:59:47 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  It's tough because no one will willingly (4+ / 0-)

                      back off increases and waste without serious penalties and then the whining will begin. The last thing I want to do is punish Medicare recipients, but the leeches that are feeding on them are atrocious. Nursing homes and suppliers of medical hardware, the list of offenders is huge.

                      "Take it back, take it back. Oh no you can't say that, all of my friends are not dead or in jail." John Prine

                      by high uintas on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 12:07:55 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Making Medicare recipients sign off on their (3+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        high uintas, James Kresnik, ban nock

                        medical care costs is one way.  At least it would close off the bogus charges(like the pregnancy test for a post menopausal woman). They have to review it quarterly now but it should really be done at the conclusion of care before the bill is submitted. It is more expensive to chase it down after it is paid.

                        "When fascism comes to America, it'll be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross." Sinclair Lewis

                        by lakehillsliberal on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 12:21:26 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Simplify the billing (5+ / 0-)

                          If you've ever dealt with the reams of paperwork that just one hospitalization brings on you know that the average Medicare patient could easily just sign off on anything.

                          It's crazy, mom would get the bills, the statements from her BCBS, and finally the CMS statements. Codes galore, redundant billings, and procedures that are pure gobbledygook.

                          One of the worst we dealt with was the company that rented her medical equipment, they continued billing Medicare for equipment that we had returned long ago and I didn't find out until mom passed.

                          The statements were worded so that it looked like an itemization of everything she had ever rented and then what she currently had. We had no idea what they were charging Medicare for her stuff, that statement didn't come to us.

                          When mom passed and we returned her child sized wheel chair I am sure Medicare had payed enough to have bought one outright at least three times over. And Medicare had been paying for a hospital bed for 4 yrs after mom had used it for a couple months. I reported it, I have no idea whether they were reimbursed or not.

                          "Take it back, take it back. Oh no you can't say that, all of my friends are not dead or in jail." John Prine

                          by high uintas on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 12:59:44 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                    •  Won't the IPAB do that? (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      James Kresnik

                      The Independent Payment Advisory Board is a significant item in the reform act, description here from kaiserhealthnews.org.

                      I agree with this:

                      I would like to see the processes put in place before we add the cap and not use the cap to force the costs down.  Use better policy to do that.

                      Slavery is the legal fiction that a person is property. Corporate personhood is the legal fiction that property is a person. -Jan Edwards

                      by SoCalSal on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 03:00:09 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

          •  It has to be evaded. Sales tax on food, meds, (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            zedaker

            co-payments for MDs or ER. On payments for "non covered services", vitamins, baby formula. Baby formula is very expensive, and very necessary.

            How did you do it? Your ratio? (If you don't mind answering.)

          •  that's funny. (4+ / 0-)

            (odd funny not hilarity funny.) i did the exercise and came up as having eliminated the deficit at 2015 and 2030 and i didn't choose the regressive sales tax. oddly my choices gave a 55/45 split between spending cuts and tax increases in that order. i wonder where our choices differed. i did choose the medicare cap after reading what it was. i took it as a limiting of costs to actual inflation not false helthcare industry demands.

            sales tax is not evaded, we've just allocated that kind of tax to states and localities in practice if not by law. that's not a bad idea. you may as well be asking for a national property tax which is another tax that we traditionally reserve for localities and not the feds.

            "Liberalism is trust of the people, tempered by prudence; conservatism, distrust of people, tempered by fear." Gladstone, Me -8.88/-7.08

            by zedaker on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 10:59:09 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  You can cut military spending more than the (0+ / 0-)

            NYT will let you cut it, without even cutting any payments to the troops.

            Talk about a stacked set of choices.

            Yet I was still able to balance everything with
            (1) restore taxes on the rich -- all of them
            (2) cut all the military spending I was allowed to
            (3) carbon tax

            Read pp. 1-7 of Krugman's _The Great Unraveling_ (available from Google Books). NOW.

            by neroden on Mon Nov 15, 2010 at 01:14:46 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  I also (7+ / 0-)

        nixed the 5% sales tax, that hurts the lowest incomes the most.  Sales taxes are regressive.

      •  Why not a DKos spreadsheet with other options NT (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Gorette
    •  Done! Budget Balance! (7+ / 0-)

      Solution 1

      Eliminate earmarks

      Reduce military to pre-Iraq War size and further reduce troops in Asia and Europe

      Cancel or delay some weapons programs

      Reduce the number of troops in Iraq and Afghanist to 30,000 by 2013

      Enact medical malpractice reform

      Cap Medicare growth starting in 2013

      Return the estate tax to Clinton-era levels (estate taxes)

      Return rates to Clinton-era levels (investment taxes)

      Allow expiration for income above $250,000 a year

      Payroll tax: Subject some incomes above $106,000 to tax

      Millionaire's tax on income above $1 million

      Carbon tax

      --------------------
      Solution 2  (differences in italics)

      Eliminate earmarks

      Reduce military to pre-Iraq War size and further reduce troops in Asia and Europe

      Cancel or delay some weapons programs

      Reduce the number of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan to 60,000 by 2015

      Enact medical malpractice reform

      Cap Medicare growth starting in 2013

      President Obama's proposal  (estate taxes)

      President Obama's proposal   (investment taxes)

      Allow expiration for income above $250,000 a year

      Payroll tax: Subject some incomes above $106,000 to tax

      Millionaire's tax on income above $1 million

      Carbon tax

      Bank Tax

      ----------------

      Those last two items will be pivot.

      Much of the saving come from Cap Medicare growth,
      and ramping down the Wars


      Where's the Note?    -- SEIU

      by jamess on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 09:09:01 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  There are some (7+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        hyperstation, lwisne, Winnie, kurt, jamess, MizC, SNFinVA

        huge mistakes on their list, not yours, but the choices.  I think taking away the mortgage deduction is just wrong.  That would KILL my family and we're struggling as it is.  So that's ridiculous to consider when the people who are fighting to stay in their houses, paying their mortgages would lose one of their biggest taxes breaks.

        I just kept cutting and cutting though and went beyond what they said to cut.  And did 50% spending and 50% taxes.  But I refuse to cut aid to Foreign Countries, we already lag behind many Developed Countries on that count, not in the amount, but based on our GDP.

        •  Re (7+ / 0-)

          So that's ridiculous to consider when the people who are fighting to stay in their houses, paying their mortgages would lose one of their biggest taxes breaks.

          It should never have been included in the first place. The government has no business subsidizing one mode of living (owning) over another (renting).

          These types of issues should be solved by the market. If you can afford to buy, buy if you want. If you want to or can only rent, rent.

          That being said, I advocate phasing out the deduction over several years rather than cutting it cold turkey for precisely the reasons you point out.

          (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
          Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

          by Sparhawk on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 09:50:12 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  this whole Exercise is Misguided (9+ / 0-)

            since

            It is the Federal Government that has the Legal Obligation --

            to payback the Social Security Trust !

            NOT the other way around.


            All cuts to SS Benefits should be OFF the Table.

            Social Security is NOT the Problem -- Govt making Good on its Borrowing is
            by jamess -- Nov 11, 2010


            Where's the Note?    -- SEIU

            by jamess on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 10:00:56 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Bullshit (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Karl Rover, Ellinorianne

            The deduction was enacted to encourage home ownership. Tax policy is used to promote social policy. There are other tax breaks that are even more deserving of our 'phasing' out, like the spread of tax levies between wage income and investment income. Let's tax income at the same rate no matter what the source.

            Instead, you post libertarian talking points like this:

            These types of issues should be solved by the market. If you can afford to buy, buy if you want. If you want to or can only rent, rent.

            Letting the market decide is precisely the libertarian bullshit that helped get us into this financial mess.

            I have an idea. How about phasing out, in graduated steps, the mortgage deduction based as a percentage of all types of income?

            •  Re (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              erush1345

              There are other tax breaks that are even more deserving of our 'phasing' out, like the spread of tax levies between wage income and investment income. Let's tax income at the same rate no matter what the source.

              Oh, I agree (mostly).

                 

              These types of issues should be solved by the market. If you can afford to buy, buy if you want. If you want to or can only rent, rent.

              Letting the market decide is precisely the libertarian bullshit that helped get us into this financial mess.

              What you posted is a talking point, not a refutation of my point.

              Even for a progressive, the tax deduction is regressive because it allows richer people to write off more money than poorer people (since they pay higher marginal tax rates).

              "Letting the market decide" is a perfectly valid response to all kinds of problems that you see every day. Do you shop at supermarkets based on cost? Congratulations, you're "letting the market decide". Do you use Priceline or some similar service to buy airline tickets based on cost? Again, you're "letting the market decide".

              If you want the government to do something about a particular problem, it is on you to explain why the private market can't solve that particular problem. In the real estate market, government involvement [other than for recording purposes, law enforcement, prevention of fraud, etc] generally just makes things worse instead of better.

              (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
              Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

              by Sparhawk on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 10:13:29 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  Yeah, but we bought our houses with this deal (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            lwisne, Winnie, Karl Rover, Ellinorianne

            So it's OK for use to be screwed? I'd be out of my house without this, and I am not wealthy. Thanks for encouraging foreclosures. Really helpful.

            "There's a fine line between clever and stupid." This Is Spinal Tap

            by ebirch1 on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 10:24:33 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  This is why... (4+ / 0-)

              ...I advocate phasing it out slowly over several years for precisely this reason.

              But the macroeconomic effects of the deduction are just bad. There is no upside in a general sense, just kickbacks to some people (mostly rich people).

              (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
              Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

              by Sparhawk on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 10:27:33 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  So you want to bankrupt us slowly? Thanks! (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Ellinorianne

                What exactly do you expect to happen over this slow phase out period?  Mortgages generally are a 30 year plan.  So either way, people are going to have to sell their houses to get out of the mortgage they can't afford log term.  And when everyone tries to sell their house, prices drop.  

                So homeowners that bought their house under the assumption that they could write off mortgage interest now are stuck with either selling their home in a massive selloff, or keeping the house and trying to figure out how not to go under as the ocean around them slowly rises in a "slow phase out."   Homeowners would crucify any politician that supported this.

              •  doesn't need to be phased out. Budget (0+ / 0-)

                can be balanced without eliminating this deduction and still nobody loses their job.  Plus Bush tax cuts stay in place.

            •  You'd get a credit instead, you know. (0+ / 0-)

              Unless you have a massive income, you actually do better with a credit than a deduction....

              Read pp. 1-7 of Krugman's _The Great Unraveling_ (available from Google Books). NOW.

              by neroden on Mon Nov 15, 2010 at 01:49:58 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  Can't change the rules mid game (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            James Kresnik, Ellinorianne

            But the problem is that millions of people have chosen their living options based on the fact that there is a mortgage deduction.  Taking it away is essentially changing the rules mid-game and increasing peoples' mortgage payments by hundreds (sometimes thousands) per month.  It would cause a foreclosure debacle that would make a few years ago look like a cake walk.

          •  Ah (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Karl Rover, NWTerriD

            I think we've actually had this conversation in some form, I know you have issues with favoring home owners over renters but it does help to actually encourage people to buy, it does help them become more invested in their communities and what happens in the place they live.  It's a much broader issue than just subsidizing one kind of living arrangement.  It helps people who have just bought a home who are paying more interest in the beginning, the tax break diminishes over time as they pay more principal over the life of the mortgage.

            I don't see why helping people buy homes is a bad thing, it's one of the foundations of the middle class, although it seems to be one of its downfalls right now but not of our own doing.

            This is going to be one of those, we aren't going to agree no matter what I say comments.  I know that on the onset, but I feel I have to argue it anyway.

        •  I think the beauty of the interactive (5+ / 0-)

          is that it puts it all on the table. Many options would be very unpopular, particularly with certain constituencies. But you got to break the eggs to make the cake. This identifies a lot of the eggs.  

          the future begins

          by zozie on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 10:00:36 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  I think it was CAP it not eliminate it (6+ / 0-)

          Don't allow the deduction over a certain income level or for loans over a certain amount, or only for up to $350,000 of a loan or some such.

          The scientific uncertainty doesn't mean that climate change isn't actually happening.

          by Mimikatz on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 10:54:41 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  yeah that's why i chose it. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            neroden, James Kresnik, SoCalSal

            it didn't appear to be something that would affect your average homeowner.

            i do grant that it's something that sounds good if done properly, but could easily become bad if misapplied. for that reason i won't defend the choice heavily.

            "Liberalism is trust of the people, tempered by prudence; conservatism, distrust of people, tempered by fear." Gladstone, Me -8.88/-7.08

            by zedaker on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 11:12:43 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Given that (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Ellinorianne, NWTerriD

          the mortgage deduction is pretty much the ONLY consumer interest deduction most of us have left, I'm really not keen on eliminating or even reducing it.

          "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." Hunter S. Thompson

          by SNFinVA on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 12:42:10 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Tax all assets (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          NWTerriD, ban nock

          I think we should eliminate deductions for interest paid, but tax interest earned at a lower rate.  That is, encourage people to save and earn interest, not to borrow and pay interest.  

          I'd be inclined to tax dividends, interest earned, and some capital gains at a lower rate, but only cap gains that actually fund operations, like purchasing treasury stock.  Income from securities trading should be taxed as ordinary income.  

          Finally, I think instead of property taxes applying only to homes, they should be applied to all forms of assets - real estate and securities and cash - at a very low rate, and with a 250K exemption or something.  That is, everyone gets to hold 250K in assets without paying a property tax, but above that level there is some small annual tax across all assets.  Doesn't matter whether you put you money into a house, or t-bills: the tax would be the same.  

          Frankly, I blame everything on Nixon.

          by J Orygun on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 12:44:40 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Converting it to a credit is not a bad thing (0+ / 0-)

          For the vast majority of people, anyway, it would actually be worth more.

          Read pp. 1-7 of Krugman's _The Great Unraveling_ (available from Google Books). NOW.

          by neroden on Mon Nov 15, 2010 at 01:16:18 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Need more options--speculation tax (5+ / 0-)

        Tax stock, bond, options and derivative transactions a small amount, like .03%.

        Much, much higher carbon tax.

        The scientific uncertainty doesn't mean that climate change isn't actually happening.

        by Mimikatz on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 10:53:00 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  My solution (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      James Kresnik, Karl Rover, Wheever

      http://www.nytimes.com/...

      75% tax increases, 25% spending cuts. The latter come from the military. My plan even gives us a surplus in 2013. I must be some un-American socialist.

    •  Thanks for this (3+ / 0-)

      I ended up with a $119 billion surplus by 2015, and a $201 billion surplus in 2030. Unmentioned in the way their quiz spells things out, how I remove the cap on only withholding FICA on the first $106k of income (which curiously is not in the "Social Security" section of this quiz as it should be, it is further down) also makes Social Security solvent in perpetuity, without increasing the retirement age, or cutting benefits.

      cheers,

      Mitch Gore

      Who is a Tea Partier? Someone who listens to Glenn Beck. Who's an anti-Tea Partier? Someone who understands Glenn Beck

      by Lestatdelc on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 12:43:56 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  BTW, my solution was the following (see link) (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        joynow, neroden, James Kresnik

        How I got there.

        Some of these can be removed or traded off and still end up in surplus:

        Reduce nuclear arsenal and space spending
        Would reduce number of nuclear warheads to 1,050, from 1,968. Would also reduce the number of Minuteman missiles and funding for nuclear research and development, missile development and space-based missile defense.
         
        Reduce military to pre-Iraq War size and further reduce troops in Asia and Europe
        “This option,” according to the bipartisan Sustainable Defense Task Force, “would cap routine U.S. military presence in Europe and Asia at 100,000 personnel, which is 26 percent below the current level and 33 percent below the level planned for the future. All told, 50,000 personnel would be withdrawn.” The option would also reduce the standing size of the military as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan wind down.
         
        Reduce Navy and Air Force fleets
        Under this option, the Navy would build 48 fewer ships and retire 37 more ships than now scheduled. Overall, the battle fleet would shrink to 230 ships, from 286. In addition, the Air Force would retire two tactical fighter wings and reduce the number of fighter jets it planned to purchase.
         
        Cancel or delay some weapons programs
        This option would cancel the purchase of some expensive equipment, like the F35 fighter jet and MV-22 Osprey, with less expensive equipment that the bipartisan Sustainable Defense Task Force judged to have similar capability. It would delay other purchases. Research and development spending, which the task force considered a relic of the cold war arms race, would be reduced.

        Reduce the number of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan to 30,000 by 2013
        Reducing troops by to 30,000 from 60,000 could save an additional $20 billion by 2030.

        Cap Medicare growth starting in 2013
        This option would cap the Medicare growth at G.D.P. growth plus 1 percentage point, starting in 2013. Among other things, this would crack down on many hospitals and doctors with the highest costs.

        Return the estate tax to Clinton-era levels
        Under President Bill Clinton, the estate tax exempted $1 million from any taxable estate. This level would not grow with inflation over time, subjecting more estates to the tax. The rate would start at 18 percent and climb to 55 percent, as it did in the 1990s. The 55 percent rate would begin at $3 million.

        Return rates to Clinton-era levels
        This option would return rates to their level under President Bill Clinton: 10 percent on capital gains for low-income households and 20 percent for everyone else, while dividends would again be taxed at the same rate as ordinary income.
         
        Allow expiration for income above $250,000 a year
        This option would allow the expiration, on Jan. 1, of the Bush tax cuts for the top 2 percent or so of households on the income distribution – those making $250,000 or more. On average, the change would equal about 2 percent of a given household’s pretax income.
         
        Payroll tax: Subject some incomes above $106,000 to tax
        When the payroll tax – which finances Social Security and Medicare – was created, it covered 90 percent of all income. Today, with a ceiling at $106,800, it covers closer to 80 percent. This option would gradually raise the ceiling, until 90 percent of income was again subject to the tax.

        Carbon tax
        This option would tax carbon emissions, starting at $23 per ton of CO2. The tax rate would increase at a constant annual rate of 5.8 percent, from 2012 through 2050.
         
        Bank Tax
        This option would tax banks based on the size of their holdings and the perceived riskiness of those holdings. Larger, riskier banks would pay more tax, both to discourage them from taking big risks and to help cover the costs of future financial crises.

        If you think that staying in Afghanistan longer is necessary, removing that still keeps us in surplus. Likewise, if you think the carbon tax hits consumers too hard, you can take that off and still remain in surplus, same with the bank tax. There are actually quite a few things that can be individually removed and still balance it as long as you keep the others I chose.

        cheers,

        Mitch Gore

        Who is a Tea Partier? Someone who listens to Glenn Beck. Who's an anti-Tea Partier? Someone who understands Glenn Beck

        by Lestatdelc on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 01:02:29 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Oh... and with the exception of the (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          neroden, James Kresnik

          Carbon tax, my tax increases do not hit over 90% of voters. So the political calculus, if Democrats could ever learn to hit the GOP with blunt and simply framed arguments (backed by the facts) would be a more than doable.

          cheers,

          Mitch Gore

          Who is a Tea Partier? Someone who listens to Glenn Beck. Who's an anti-Tea Partier? Someone who understands Glenn Beck

          by Lestatdelc on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 01:10:00 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  I think that the most useful part of this tool (5+ / 0-)

      is showing that the Republican platform (Foreign aid, earmarks) are a drop in the effing bucket compared to the actual problems of not having a sufficient tax revenue stream.

      •  Yeah, but their plank of (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        neroden

        increasing the SS retirement age brings massive deficit reductions in the long term. As long as you're not troubled by the image of thousands of 68-year-old coal miners, or by the federal govt having raided SS and not repaying what it borrowed, raising the retirment age is an easy solution to our problems.

        "These are not candidates. These are the empty stand-ins for lobbyists' policies to be legislated later." - Chimpy, 9/24/10

        by NWTerriD on Mon Nov 15, 2010 at 12:47:17 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  An outstanding interactive tool! (15+ / 0-)

      My tweet on the subject:

      My plan to cut the USA deficit: Recall most troops, Restrain Medicare, Restore wealth taxes, Tax carbon http://t.co/... via @nytgraphics

      I got 50% savings from tax increases and 50% from spending cuts.

      Barack Obama: The mind of John Q Adams, the charisma of Ronald Reagan, the composure of Abraham Lincoln, and the negotiating skill of Jimmy Carter (sigh)

      by Jimdotz on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 06:44:02 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I went with no wars (18+ / 0-)

      and taxes on the wealth.  Howver, people should note the games being played with the social security tax cap proposals.  They are talking about raising the cap, but not eliminating it.

      The means that the tax is still regressive.

      If I were King for a day I would exempt the first 10K of FICA, and re-impose the tax on all income over 250K.

      We should remember, though, that social security is off budget.

      I didn't touch Medicare or Social Security, cut defense, let the tax cuts expire, and chose some cuts for Federal workers.
      http://www.nytimes.com/...

      The most right wing thing I did was tort reform.  I am a lawyer, and I absolutely have seen abuses in medical malpractice.  

      The bitter truth of deep inequality has been disguised by an era of cheap imported goods and the anyone-can-make-it celebrity myth - Polly Toynbee

      by fladem on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 07:13:08 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Agree on SS (8+ / 0-)

        it seemed wrong to include it in a budget-balancing exercise.

        I also wish they had included a Wall Street transaction tax on derivatives, and other risky casino type trading.  IIRC, that option isn't included in any of the tax proposals listed in the graphic.

        I'm also uncomfortable with the ongoing media focus on balancing the budget while they completely ignore jobs and other economic recovery.  Balancing the budget won't accomplish that.

      •  Re (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        zedaker, James Kresnik, erush1345

        Howver, people should note the games being played with the social security tax cap proposals.  They are talking about raising the cap, but not eliminating it.

        The means that the tax is still regressive.

        The Social Security tax is not regressive. For every dollar you contribute, you get an (actuarially adjusted) dollar back. It was never designed for the rich to subsidize the poor.

        (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
        Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

        by Sparhawk on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 09:18:06 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  And when it was created, the income inequality (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          neroden, radical simplicity

          was nothing like it was today.  We don't increase that and we need to substantially increase taxes on the rich, pick your poison.

          "When fascism comes to America, it'll be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross." Sinclair Lewis

          by lakehillsliberal on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 09:55:52 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Please reread the site mission statement (3+ / 0-)

          It was never designed for the rich to subsidize the poor.

          Agreed. It was designed to keep our parents, and eventually us, from destitution in our old age. Part of the deal; the rich get to live and prosper in a rich-friendly country. In exchange, we ask you to pitch in a little extra to take care of our poor and old. In an era when most decent paying jobs have been shipped overseas and we borrow money from our good friends the Chinese to pay for our oil wars, I think the rich are still getting off pretty good, as it were.  

          Were you aware this is NOT a libertarian website?

          •  Re (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            erush1345

            It was designed to keep our parents, and eventually us, from destitution in our old age. Part of the deal; the rich get to live and prosper in a rich-friendly country. In exchange, we ask you to pitch in a little extra to take care of our poor and old.

            You are inventing a "part of the deal" that is not part of Social Security. The deal for Social Security is that you contribute a dollar into it and get an actuarially adjusted dollar back out (more or less). If you want to change the deal, that might be up for discussion, but that's not how it currently operates and this "we ask you to pitch in a little extra" was never a condition of Social Security before.

            Were you aware this is NOT a libertarian website?

            I generally come down on the Democratic side of things. I've been on here since the site's inception, commented on many, many threads and have never gotten any feedback from anyone in authority that my posts are not wanted. DKos is not an echo chamber, it's supposed to be intellectually honest discussion. So kindly STFU.

            (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
            Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

            by Sparhawk on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 10:22:54 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Nope (0+ / 0-)

              The deal for Social Security is that you contribute a dollar into it and get an actuarially adjusted dollar back out (more or less)

              Prove it.

              I generally come down on the Democratic side of things.

              Your comment history belies this. Funny how you come out of the woodwork whenever the discussion of taxing the wealthy comes up.

              Please don't tell me to STFU. Rude and donut worthy. Obviously I hit a tender spot.

              •  Re (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                erush1345

                Prove it.

                Prove what? Obviously known facts that are well-understood by everyone familiar with this issue?

                I will say that the "actuarially adjusted dollar" may not mean precisely one dollar, just that your benefit is supposed to be roughly proportionate to your contribution. Everyone knows this about Social Security.

                Please don't tell me to STFU. Rude and donut worthy. Obviously I hit a tender spot.

                Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel. I don't impugn your motives, I expect the same courtesy in return. So please don't tell me where I can and can't comment.

                (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
                Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

                by Sparhawk on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 11:23:39 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  he's right, oz. (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                James Kresnik, ozsea1, erush1345

                one of the selling points to SS originally was that it was insurance and NOT a redistribution of wealth which i think is why they limited the FICA tax to wage/salary income (in part). it's also why some people get $1k/mo and others get $2k/mo as benefits. (example numbers there.)

                "Liberalism is trust of the people, tempered by prudence; conservatism, distrust of people, tempered by fear." Gladstone, Me -8.88/-7.08

                by zedaker on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 11:39:15 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

        •  Soc. Sec. really was designed (0+ / 0-)

          for the rich to subsidize the poor, but anyway...

          the devil is in that "actuarially adjusted" phrase, and the fact is that poor people get proportionally more back than rich people.

          Which is fine.  Rich people still get more back in absolute terms.

          Read pp. 1-7 of Krugman's _The Great Unraveling_ (available from Google Books). NOW.

          by neroden on Mon Nov 15, 2010 at 01:20:42 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  I checked the tort reform, too. (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        SoCalSal, erush1345, tennegirl, guinea

        But I am a doctor and easily accused of being self serving in that choice.  What I think about tort reform is that while it may save a relatively modest amount of money from the deficit (apparently $13 billion is chump change today), I think there will be other less quantifiable benefits.  Now there is a disturbing tension between doctor and patient as the doctor has in the back of his/her mind that this patient may be the one to end that doctor's career.  As a doctor I know there is no way on Planet Earth that I will have uniformly excellent outcomes in every patient every time, no matter how good I am.  The fear is there that a bad outcome without fault on the part of the doctor will turn into several years of a legal battle and ultimately make the doctor unable to continue practice.  I have seen an excellent doctor have to leave the state unable to get insurance to practice here anymore for a case in which I believe he really had no fault.  
        I certainly do not want any system that allows doctors to practice in a cavalier manner.  But currently that vague insidious undercurrent of fear does an unmeasurable harm to the relationship between doctor and patient.  I think patients feel it, too.  I am not only a doctor, of course, but also at many times a patient.  It's not hard to tell when there is that certain look in the eyes of my doctor when they suggest probably unnecessary tests to make sure I won't be able to sue them later for not getting that test.  It's fear.  It's a bit of a waste of money, but it is also wasting a human relationship.

        I was wise enough to never grow up while fooling most people into believing I had. - Margaret Mead

        by fayea on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 10:17:52 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Do you think that established standards of care (0+ / 0-)

          would significantly reduce that fear? Several news articles in the past year or so have described uniform standards of care developed in clinics, standards that significantly improved patient outcomes. From the patient perspective, that appeals to me. What is your take as a doctor?

          As someone who suffered twice from doctor's error, I did not select tort reform. In one incident I was not physically harmed long term, and the doctor/clinic reduced charges to the amount paid by insurance. I didn't even think then of taking the matter further. The other case was serious but so long ago, when malpractice was difficult to prove, that I did not pursue legal recourse but should have.

          Slavery is the legal fiction that a person is property. Corporate personhood is the legal fiction that property is a person. -Jan Edwards

          by SoCalSal on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 03:27:27 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Doc the tension between us has nothing to do (0+ / 0-)

          with suing. It has everything to do  with you letting me die because I'm of modest means, and I've got a wife and little kids. I've got more savings than most but in this country having cash means you pay triple or worse.

          I know you make a heck of a lot of money, and because I can't buy good enough insurance I get much worse care than I would in just about any other country.

          I'm all grown up mind you, I know that you can't go around working for free or giving free treatment out of your pocket. I've seen people die for lack of a surgical pack in the third world. But this is America, and if I could fly to the second world I could afford to pay for great healthcare. Better than America.

          I figured I'd write just in case you read. I'm the big redneck with the cute wife looking at you from the other side of the examination room.

          I don't sue, if you don't charge too much. But if you blow it, don't send me a bill, or I'll sue the heck out of you. It's too  bad you get sued, but believe me, it's a not as bad as no medical care.

          "slip now and you'll fall the rest of your life" Derek Hersey 1957-1993

          by ban nock on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 05:26:52 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  I noticed that. (0+ / 0-)

        Pissed me off.

        Shop Liberally this holiday season at Kos Katalog

        by radical simplicity on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 10:22:36 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Tort reform doesn't work (8+ / 1-)

        In states with tort reform, the malpractice rates are as high or higher than in states without. It has exactly no impact on the cost of care. All it does is prevent people from getting help after a bad doctor leaves them disabled.

        Shop Liberally this holiday season at Kos Katalog

        by radical simplicity on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 10:24:35 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  So easy even a Republican could do it! (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      marykk, James Kresnik, tennegirl

      not that it would occur to them, of course.  

      Being a passive-aggressive, I am mulling various proposals about what to do with a deadlocked congress that refuses to govern.  So far I have an absurd twist on 'Second Amendment rights' that I may diary about later, and that could help level the playing field. And no, it doesn't involve a shootout in the chambers of congress where the last party standing wins.  Tempting perhaps, but no.

      Real plastic here; none of that new synthetic stuff made from chicken feathers. If 13 is a baker's dozen, then 11 is a politician's.

      by triplepoint on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 07:55:46 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Makes clear our politicians are tools... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      3goldens, myrealname, James Kresnik

      who have been paid off by corporations and the ultra-rich to make the most ridiculous, middle-class killing budgetary decisions.

      This graphic makes clear how simple it would be to fix our nation's issues, yet our "leaders" stand in the way with their usual lack of bravery.

      We cannot solve the problems that we have created with the same thinking that created them." - Albert Einstein

      by CarolinW on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 08:11:33 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Single-payer is not an option... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tmo, joanneleon, AgavePup, SoCalSal

      in the graphic, while making people wait till age 70 for Medicare is, alas.

      •  Nobody knows the cost/benefit of Single Payer (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        James Kresnik, erush1345

        It's really hard to put a simple number of the savings involved, and at the very least it would politicize this tool.  I think it's wise to leave it out so that both liberals and conservatives can take a close look at where savings can be had.

        •  I find this tool as disingenuous... (0+ / 0-)

          ...as the human tools creating these narrow frameworks for deficit reduction and "fiscal responsibility."

          Rather than choosing among the options given to us by unelected officials like Pete Peterson and Alan Simpson, we should be standing up against Congress's foisting off its job on these panels.

          •  Well, put some firm numbers up, (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Alice in Florida, SoCalSal

            because if you make this kind of claim without citation or research, then you're logically acting no different from right-wingers who claim that this chart is bogus because 100% tax cuts and impeaching Obama will fix everything.

            Every politician in America is sounding like that mayor in Jaws. -global citizen

            by James Kresnik on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 12:34:32 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I reject your contention... (0+ / 0-)

              ...that it's my job to balance the budget, rather than Congress's, as well as your tired meme that refusing to buy into this deficit bullshit makes me "no different from right-wingers."

              It's pure bullshit to say that those of us who don't accept right-wing solutions about deficit-slashing are "right-wingers."

              •  I reject *your* contention (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                neroden, erush1345

                that conjecture without supporting evidence somehow trumps claims with numbers to back them. Otherwise, anyone can claim any policy can supply the required amounts to balance the equation.

                From my quick skim, the public option verses the other plan saves, at best, three hundred billion, which is progress, but not a magic bullet as it falls short of the 1.5 Trillion required to balance the budget.

                So, if you had bothered to Google a couple of articles rather than get your hackles up, you could have been taken seriously, rather than sounding like these guys.

                Every politician in America is sounding like that mayor in Jaws. -global citizen

                by James Kresnik on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 01:32:49 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Where did you find the $300 billion figure? (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  James Kresnik

                  I just did a quick search and used an article from Ezra Klein, here. that cites a CBO analysis of $110 billion over ten years. Maybe I need a better search; I like your figure much better.

                  Slavery is the legal fiction that a person is property. Corporate personhood is the legal fiction that property is a person. -Jan Edwards

                  by SoCalSal on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 03:39:52 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Just some CBO figures I dug on on CNN.com. (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    neroden, SoCalSal

                    The figures date Oct 2009, which I would bet come at a different date than yours. Let's see here:

                    http://articles.cnn.com/...

                    . . . a public option would cost $871 billion over 10 years, according to two Democratic sources.

                    This new CBO estimate, which aides caution is not final, is significantly less than the $1.1 trillion price tag of the original House bill that passed out of three committees this summer.

                    Every politician in America is sounding like that mayor in Jaws. -global citizen

                    by James Kresnik on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 05:51:46 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  The dates are close... (0+ / 0-)

                      Ezra Klein's post dated 9/2009 and your cnn source 10/2009. But the link in Ezra's post no longer works, so I'll search around later.
                      Thanks for your reply.

                      Slavery is the legal fiction that a person is property. Corporate personhood is the legal fiction that property is a person. -Jan Edwards

                      by SoCalSal on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 08:07:13 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

        •  $110 billion saved in 10 years for public option, (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          James Kresnik, Egalitare

          a public option based on Medicare rates. That was calculated by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) during the health care bill's debate.

          I don't think it's possible in the foreseeable future to get to a single payer system in this country, though I favor single payer. But a public option is not only possible, it's included in the chair's mark of the fiscal commission (as potential implementation if other cost reductions are not achieved).

          Slavery is the legal fiction that a person is property. Corporate personhood is the legal fiction that property is a person. -Jan Edwards

          by SoCalSal on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 03:35:05 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Just ask Canada. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Egalitare

          Makes it damned easy to work the numbers out for single payer, you know.

          Read pp. 1-7 of Krugman's _The Great Unraveling_ (available from Google Books). NOW.

          by neroden on Mon Nov 15, 2010 at 01:23:26 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  What's most absurd about that (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        neroden

        is that the 65-70 year olds have got to be cheaper to insure than those over 70, especially if all this stuff about people living healthier longer is to be believed...the big money is in overtreatment of 80 or 90 year olds, not insuring 65 year olds. The biggest problems with 65 year olds is that some of them have been uninsured for years and put off preventive care for years while waiting for coverage.

        "All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out." --I.F. Stone

        by Alice in Florida on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 04:21:38 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  No, it's stop supporting COLD war programs n/t (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      James Kresnik

      "There's a fine line between clever and stupid." This Is Spinal Tap

      by ebirch1 on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 10:27:12 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  That is so totally eastern elitist! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      James Kresnik

      Sensible, fair and workable, of course, but it just won't fly with "real Americans" giving it their "gut test."

      Why is there a Confederate Flag flying in Afghanistan?

      by chimpy on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 02:09:16 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Very cool (22+ / 0-)

    Would be intersting to use this tool as a poll or referendum of national acceptance of various options

    Those who hear not the music-think the dancers mad

    by Eiron on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 05:45:46 AM PST

    •  Bad idea... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      joanneleon, quotemstr

      ...because only a narrow range of choices are on that table.

      The "solutions" for healthcare costs are choices among Meow-Mix, Fancy Feast, and Purina Cat Chow.  I don't want boomer-hating young'uns voting on whether us olds should wait till age 68 or age 70 for Medicare.

      •  Then where are the numbers backing your claim. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        SoCalSal, erush1345

        This chart is limited because it tries to deal with proposals that provide actual figures. It's time to do your homework.

        Every politician in America is sounding like that mayor in Jaws. -global citizen

        by James Kresnik on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 12:35:40 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Backing what claim? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          westcott

          The proposals to push back Medicare eligibility to ages 68 and 70 are right there in the interactive tool, under the Healthcare "options."

          And what homework? It's not my job to rearrange the budget--nor is it Alan Simpson's or Pete Peterson's job, as we've been led to believe. It's Congress's job, and I'm not letting them off the hook for foisting this narrow group of options onto Simpson, et al.

  •  Most of your choices are laudable. (25+ / 0-)

    But we should be increasing foreign aid, not reducing it.

    "Hope 2010 feels a lot different than Hope 2008. Tougher, deeper, more dearly bought." Femlaw, Hope 2010, September 8, 2010.

    by seanwright on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 05:52:05 AM PST

  •  I love this tool but we shouldn't cut (20+ / 0-)

    foreign aid.  We could argue some things should be targeted differently but our foreign aid spending is very low.

    At around 1% of the federal budget it's not much at all.  As a percentage of GDP we're the lowest givers among industrialized countries.  Dead bottom.  Embarrassingly little, when you think of how much we spend on war - whether fighting it or preparing for it.  Or in trying to make our country safe, whatever that entails, when lifting billions out of poverty would do very good things for the US's security as well.

    And, actually, while foreign aid is supposedly unpopular with voters, the funny thing that happens when you ask the question is that most Americans think the amount we spend is massively higher than it is.  And if asked how much would be the right amount, would pick a number several times bigger than what we actually spend.  We need to somehow get that message across better.

    Fun poll results here, though this wasn't the site I was looking for originally:

    http://www.globallearningnj.org/...
     

    (Sadly, in Kathmandu no longer.)

    by American in Kathmandu on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 05:53:52 AM PST

  •  I almost did it (34+ / 0-)

    Redeemed 1,158B out of 1,350B in 2030, without touching Medicare, Medicaid, or SS.

    The military would no longer be supersized. And it would sux to be a billionaire under the Nekkid Plan :-)

    Interesting . . .

    No more Mr. Nice Guy . . .

    by thenekkidtruth on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 05:54:35 AM PST

  •  That is pretty cool (18+ / 0-)

    But I think there are a couple more options they didn't give you.

    G.W. Bush quadrupled the pentagon Budget from $220 billion in 2001 to over $700 Billion/yr in 2008

    He also created the whole new Terrorism Industrial complex which cost us $200 Billion+/yr

    Dismantle these programs and now we are having a debate.

  •  We have a surplus! (25+ / 0-)

    Thanks for highlighting this. Missed it in the Times earlier, but went back to play w/the interactive because of your diary. T&R'd and everyone will be pleased to know that I've got the budget well into the black (doing much as the diarist did).  Here are my 15 steps to a surplus:

    1. Eliminate earmarks.
    1. Eliminate farm subsidies.
    1. Reduce military to pre-Iraq War size and further reduce troops in Asia and Europe.
    1. Reduce the # of troops in Iraq & Afghanistan to 30,000 (would actually take it all the way down to 0, but that was not a choice).
    1. Enact med malpractice reform.
    1. Cap Medicare growth starting in 2013 (by cracking down on the hospitals and doctors with the highest costs.) (Yes, I know the arguments against, but the savings were just too delicious to pass up.)
    1. Tighten eligibility for disability.
    1. Use an alternate measure for inflation.
    1. Return the estate tax to Clinton-era levels.
    1. Return investment taxes to Clinto-era levels.
    1. Allow expiration of the Bush tax cuts for $250K+.
    1. Increase the ceiling on the payroll tax re: SSI and Medicare.
    1. Add Millionaire's Tax on income above $1,000,000 per year.
    1. Eliminate tax code loopholes (I personally use a nubmer of them and know well who benefits from them).
    1. Add a Bank Tax on larger, riskier banks.

    Learn more about second-class U.S. citizenship at http://www.equalitymatters.org

    by Larry Bailey on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 05:58:52 AM PST

  •  NO, NO, NO!!!! (23+ / 0-)

    You see, I read in the New York Times that we have to do away with the mortgage deduction in order for the middle class to truly understand how SERIOUS the problem really is!!!!

    The NEW YORK TIMES wouldn't lie to me!  I know that!!!

    Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free
    ¡Boycott Arizona!

    by litho on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 05:59:49 AM PST

  •  That was easy ( and fun). (10+ / 0-)

    "I'm sentimental, if you know what I mean I love the country but I can't stand the scene." - Leonard Cohen (Democracy)

    by LamontCranston on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 06:10:56 AM PST

  •  That is hilarious! (5+ / 0-)

    Nothing like some useful edutainment!

    "That's quite a jump. But you keep it up, I'm sure one day you'll clear that shark."

    by Steve In DC on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 06:18:40 AM PST

  •  Jeez I solved it in 3 minutes. (22+ / 0-)

    That was frickin' easy.

    Electing Republicans to run our government is like hiring an arsonist as Property Manager.

    by Grumpy Young Man on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 06:19:56 AM PST

    •  Yup and how many millions (4+ / 0-)

      do we collectively as a country waste spend on our elected congresscritters and leaders to do the job that many of us just did (unpaid mind you) in record time. Never mind the fact they waste also spend countless hours of time and energy pretty much doing nothing really significant that addresses it (and I include meeting over lunch, cocktails, golf, vacation junkets, etc, with corporate lobbyists,  and staffers and also get lifetime health care and pension benefits....what a racket!

      Talk about wasteful gov't...it starts with our elected officials.

      Btw I had it with 68% tax increases and 32% cuts (mostly military).

      As other stated would like to see this graphic with a submit button so we all could see the percentages us mere serfs and mortals chose. I bet there would be a large consensus amongst the serfs of how the sacrifices should be shared.

      "Children are our most valuable natural resource." -- Herbert Hoover

      by emal on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 08:16:48 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yep, if we aggregrate the most popular proposals, (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        neroden, Grumpy Young Man

        and guarantee one submission per user, we could get this budget mess solved by lunch, and without the need for corporate PR brainwashing, brandishing, misspelled picket signs and other hysterics.

        Every politician in America is sounding like that mayor in Jaws. -global citizen

        by James Kresnik on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 07:09:07 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I agree, it was a piece of cake. (5+ / 0-)

      Now where is the interactive graphic to fix the Israel/Palestine issue? That should take a little more time. :D

  •  Throw spitballs at this (17+ / 0-)

    I dares ya!

    1 Reduce nuclear arsenal and space spending
    2 Reduce military to pre-Iraq War size and further reduce troops in Asia and Europe
    3 Reduce Navy and Air Force fleets
    4 Cancel or delay some weapons programs
    5 Reduce noncombat military compensation and overhead
    6 Reduce the number of troops in Iraq and Afghanist to 30,000 by 2013
    7 Return the estate tax to Clinton-era levels
    8 Return rates to Clinton-era levels
    9 Allow expiration for income above $250,000 a year
    10 Payroll tax: Subject some incomes above $106,000 to tax
    11 Millionaire's tax on income above $1 million
    12 Eliminate loopholes, reduce rates (Bowles-Simpson plan)
    13 Carbon tax
    14 Bank Tax

    Some observations:

    - Redeems 1,158B out of 1,350B in 2030, without touching Medicare, Medicaid, or SS

    - Doesn't affect foreign aid

    - Sux to be a billionaire.  Cry me a river. Go repatriate to China and bill them USD $3 Trillion. The people can run your companies a damm sight more ethically than you

    - There's real reasons that Clinton-era economics couldn't rock more

    - Earmarks are widely misunderstood, even here. The founding fathers literally charged representatives with securing federal funding for local projects.  As well, earmarks are less than 1% of the budget.

    - The military gets bent over the proverbial barrel. While martial forces need to be up to the task, CounterIntelligence is the new paradigm.

    - Barack needs to be less of a Conservative

    - Lastly, it doesn't have to solve the problem in total. I think this comes close enough. A lot will happen between now and 2030

    No more Mr. Nice Guy . . .

    by thenekkidtruth on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 06:21:40 AM PST

  •  I'd get lynched. (10+ / 0-)

    My solution:

    - Reduce nuclear weapons, less military R&D, cut the number of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan to 60.000

    - Reduce SS for those with high incomes, Reinstate the Clinton-era estate tax, subject some incomes above $106.000 to tax.

    - Millionare's tax, eliminate loopholes, but keep taxes slightly higher, carbon tax, bank tax, national sales tax.

    Iuris praecepta sunt haec: Honeste vivere, alterum non laedere, suum cuique tribuere. - Ulpian, Digestae 1, 3

    by Dauphin on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 06:23:05 AM PST

    •  Need to be careful (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ferg, willyr, James Kresnik

      with reducing SS for higher incomes. The strength of the program is in the fact that it isn't means-tested, so the higher-income people don't seek to kill it.

    •  ah I did nearly exactly the same (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dauphin, James Kresnik

      seems a common Euro style thinking

      70% shortfall made up by tax measures, 30% by spending measures, in my variant. I saw its possible to let them Americans keep on having no sales tax by a little bit sharpened cuts.

      actually I do not see why you (or I) should get lynched. Since when does fiscal responsibility get one lynched? Who should fear lynching is the well-to-do people who suggest bankrupting America rather than carrying their share of the burden. That attitude has already brought down Rome, it will have similar results today.

      The US needs a party around roughly your choice-set. If the Democratic Party would adopt it then we could call it a really Social Democratic Party. I´d like that :)

      Ici s´arrète la loi.

      by marsanges on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 11:08:36 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I want an option to add a 500% sin tax on gum. (13+ / 0-)

    It probably wouldn't help at all, but if I'm going to be scraping the stuff off of my shoes, I'd like to see at least some sort of benefit from it.

  •  Economic growth missing (10+ / 0-)

    The only thing that is missing if future economic growth.   The single most effective way to address the deficit is to grow the economy.  Period.  

    The graphic assumes no new tax revenues due to economic growth.  Maybe with our current Administration's policies and an insane House, this could be true.  But I would like to see an option that allows you to project future growth which would show how even modest growth dramatically addresses the deficit.  

    The entire deficit discussion is a canard.

    "Senator McCain offered up the oldest Washington stunt in the book - you pass the buck to a commission to study the problem." - Senator Obama, 9-16-2008

    by justmy2 on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 06:32:45 AM PST

  •  My choices create a surplus (10+ / 0-)

    and begin to pay down the debt.  Pretty balanced between spending cuts (mostly military programs) and revenue increases (Clinton-era rates and closing loopholes).  

    Review here.

    ----- GOP found drowned in Grover Norquist's bathtub.

    by JimWilson on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 06:34:24 AM PST

  •  Did I miss it? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    neroden, Notreadytobenice, NM Ray

    I didn't see an option for raising the SS income cap exempting incomes above ~$106,000 from paying in.

    Shop Liberally this holiday season at Kos Katalogue

    by Timbuk3 on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 06:35:04 AM PST

  •  should have included a tax on equity trading. n/t (24+ / 0-)

    "History is a tragedy, not a melodrama." - I.F.Stone

    by bigchin on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 06:35:15 AM PST

    •  oh no, not that sacred cow (6+ / 0-)

      Erskine picked all the targets! can't have his company that he's on the board of directors of, have to contribute

    •  My comment exactly (3+ / 0-)

      Gee.  What a surprise.  What is a big business in New York?

    •  Yup. It looks like the choices were right (4+ / 0-)

      from the Cat Food Commission recommendations, not from the diarist.

      I was looking for that one, because other countries do it and it reduces speculation.

      I also thought I heard there was a one or two line provision/recommendation to introduce Medicare for all or Single Payer.  Is it not in the recommendations?

      My approach in the exercise:  Cut almost all military except benefits.  I voted to reduce the contractors, would much rather increase regular military than keep the non touchable contractors; didn't touch SS, retirement, Medicare; increased SS taxes categories; return to Clinton ere taxes (which is way short of Eishenhauer top tax rates); don't believe in tort reform since a court case may be all that is between a patient, customer, citizen and no recovery at all under current rules and limits;

      Bottom line = 69% from tax increases and 31% from spending cuts mostly military.

      I would like to change farm subsidies to encourage redevelopment of local family farms.

      I would also like to see what would happen if we had a fairly massive jobs program that focused on renewable non fossil fuel deployment to transportation and homes.  With savings shown.

      Great exercise and good job of the NYT on this one.

      "Never, desist till we ... extinguish this bloody traffic, of which our posterity, will scarce believe that it suffered a disgrace and dishonor to this country.

      by Regina in a Sears Kit House on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 08:19:35 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  So you're A-ok with capping medical benefits? (6+ / 0-)
    Ok, well, enjoy the world without me in it then... it has cost quite a lot to keep me alive so far, am certain I've already exceeded whatever limit you are setting.

    Rep Grayson said it best, "Don't get sick, and if you DO get sick, die quickly."

    "Limited government only sounds good as an abstraction, but the principles of the free market won't get you too far when your house is on fire." ~Joshua Holland

    by MsGrin on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 06:35:52 AM PST

    •  It's the closest choice to "public option." (11+ / 0-)

      Or, "throw a dart and enact any other advanced country's health care laws, word or word and punctuation mark for punctuation mark."

      Sorry to hear of your health situation and hope it all works out.

      "When the going gets tough, the tough get 'too big to fail'."

      by New Deal democrat on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 06:44:17 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I did not see capping medical benefits, (6+ / 0-)

        only capping Medicare benefits and I don't see how this is anywhere close to a public option - seems the opposite to me. What am I missing?

        •  I'm with you (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          CuriousBoston

          'Capping' medical benefits sure ain't anything like fixing the problems of uninhibited greed of insurance companies.  I'm all for single-payer or a public option, and especially for cutting benefits to Medicare Advantage companies (which is where I get my insurance, as it happens, so it will limit my access) but that ain't 'capping.'

          "Limited government only sounds good as an abstraction, but the principles of the free market won't get you too far when your house is on fire." ~Joshua Holland

          by MsGrin on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 08:31:17 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  It was capping payments to docs (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ferg

          under Medicare - not denying or capping care to patients.  It's part of trying to control Medicare costs by trying to eliminate overcharging, over treatment and price-gouging by docs and hospitals.  

          •  Is there an option to cap only specialists? (0+ / 0-)

            Primary care and gerontologists are getting harder and harder to find, they can't pay their bills. My explainion of benefits from Medicare makes this clear.

            By capping payments to docs, you limit access to primary care. Until all the health clinics are built. If medical professionals will work there.

            •  There's already a shortage (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              CuriousBoston

              There's a shortage of doctors (see here or here) which is going to get worse in the years ahead. It's worse in rural areas (I treaded water in an underserved area for 10 years). Be careful how much you take out of the necks of the specialists -- remember that these are folks who are typically putting in 9-10 years after graduating college, and they're graduating med school with (according to one of those links above*) $150,000 in debt. There was a big push toward primary care during the Reagan years, and as a result we have a shortage of specialists (AND too few primary care docs, ironically).

              There is an easy solution to the health care crisis, I think. Have the government offer a program where they pay for your medical school AND provide you a small stipend to live on during your years in med school. In exchange, you agree to put in 10 years, during which you're paying back the government in some way -- working in underserved areas, military/medical service (e.g. at a VA hospital), or perhaps even seeing Medicare patients at a reduced reimbursement rate.

              Sure, there are some pre-med students who would avoid such a program -- the ones who are willing to take on a huge debt. But I'll bet there would be plenty of bright-but-lower-income students who would jump at the chance.

              __

              *I graduated twenty years ago with $70K in debt, but I had worked in a combined degree program wherein I was paid with a partial tuition remission. Most of my fellow students were graduating with $100K in debt -- twenty years ago. So I would not be surprised if the figure now were worse than $150K.

              We drew our heavy revolvers (suddenly in the dream there were revolvers) and exultantly killed the gods. -- Jorge Luis Borges, Ragnarok

              by Hobbitfoot on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 09:57:55 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  The answer is free medical school. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                MsGrin

                The answer is not to allow doctors to charge more to pay for the debts they incurred in medical school.  The answer, as in France, is for the government to simply subsidize medical school.

                Read pp. 1-7 of Krugman's _The Great Unraveling_ (available from Google Books). NOW.

                by neroden on Mon Nov 15, 2010 at 01:35:39 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  it's fair to expect something in return (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  MsGrin

                  in the way of public service. BTW, doctors are NOT allowed to charge more to pay off their debts. With the exception of fee for service docs (i.e., cosmetic surgeons), the rest of us are paid what Medicare and 3rd party payers will allow. Oh, we can bill more for a procedure or visit, but anything  beyond "usual and customary" gets laughed at.

                  Doctors are not nearly as big a part of this equation as some people think.

                  We drew our heavy revolvers (suddenly in the dream there were revolvers) and exultantly killed the gods. -- Jorge Luis Borges, Ragnarok

                  by Hobbitfoot on Mon Nov 15, 2010 at 11:36:04 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

  •  I cut farm subsidies... (10+ / 0-)

    it worked out well but Monsanto is out to get me!

    Here is a test to find whether your mission on earth is finished: If you're alive, it isn't.

    by EdgedInBlue on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 06:39:00 AM PST

    •  I was glad to see that was first on the list. (5+ / 0-)

      The more attention we draw to that welfare, the better

    •  Monsanto will be fine. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      marykk

      But you just killed family farming.

      •  Family Farming is being killed (8+ / 0-)

        faster by big agri-business than by the loss of farm subsidies.  In fact, it could be argued that the family farm is already practically extinct.  Perhaps if subsidies given out to corporate farms were cut, family farms would once again have a fighting chance.  

      •  How is family farming defined? (0+ / 0-)

        When you say family farming, I get a faint resonance in my mind for what farming used to be, but I'm not sure that it's quite that way anymore. I just finished module about how the subsidies given farmers in richer countries kills the possibility of third-world profitability in farming.  Oxfam estimates rich countries subsidize their ag to the tune of about a billion a day.  Aid to the least developed nations is about $56 billion.  During the first three years of W's reign, the level of subsidies increased by 40 billion in return for donations by corporate agribusiness.  LDC's don't have the money to underwrite their farms, so they can't compete and they have to open their markets to the cheap food produced by subsidized markets. This is an example of "free trade"... :::sigh:::  Only 10% of farms in the U.S. get 65% of the subsidies. (International Herald Tribune, 10 Sept 2003)

        According to the ag dept, 98% of all farms are classified as "family farms" (produce 59%) and of those 91% are defined as "small family farms" (produce 27%) and the non-family farms, 2%, produce 14%.  

        Small farms account for 63 percent of the value of
        production for hay, 58 percent for tobacco, 39 percent for cash grains (including soybeans), 37 percent for dairy products, and 33 percent for beef cattle. Between '89 and '03, production shifted sharply to very large family farms and non-family
        farms which accounted for 58 percent of the value of production in 2003.  

        BUT, production of high-value crops is heavily concentrated among very large family farms and non-family farms, which together account for 76 percent of the total.

        Here is a test to find whether your mission on earth is finished: If you're alive, it isn't.

        by EdgedInBlue on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 10:28:33 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Wouldn't it be easier to pillage Canada? (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bob Love, neroden, pgm 01, James Kresnik

    That way, everyone wins!

    (Except for the Canadians. Shh!)

  •  I cut $761 from the 2015 budget, (19+ / 0-)

    resulting in a big surplus, and $1.495 trillion from the projected 2030 budget also resulting in a surplus. 63% from tax increases, 37% from spending cuts. Didn't reduce benefits for Medicare or Social Security or reduce foreign aid.

    Not nearly so hard as one might expect.

    As my husband has been saying for years, put average people in charge who aren't beholden to lobbyists.

  •  I solved the deficit! (6+ / 0-)

    Dang, that was easy!

    32% from tax increases, 68% from spending cuts.

    What a great, FANTASTIC, tool.

  •  So easy, a Republican could do it... (4+ / 0-)

    then again, maybe not.

    Show me a teabagger concerned about the deficit, and I'll show you the world's worst hypocrite.

    by farleftloon on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 06:47:35 AM PST

  •  What I don't understand is why SS is in there (10+ / 0-)

    if it doesn't contribute to the deficit

    Also, the employer health insurance tax credit! Wow, now there's a pig feeding at the trough. Get rid of that, and see how popular the public option would become, overnight!

    Kind of ironic how people would screech about the po being soshulist, but how the government 'donating' 160 billion to health care via tax cuts, is not!

  •  I fixed the budget in 10 minutes. (9+ / 0-)

    What a bunch of asshats in DC.

  •  So fun (6+ / 0-)

    I did it with a surplus, only  thing that I was not happy doing raising tax on employer health care. Everything else was going back to Clinton era taxes, lowering defense. I did not get rid of for. aid because that is a drop in a bucket, I did get rid of farm aid because I live in a farm state and only see the corp. farms benefit.

    I don't care what you do in your beds, just keep your hand out of my pocket.

    by the mom in the middle on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 06:57:04 AM PST

  •  I also did what the tea party (17+ / 0-)

    wants, did not even come up with half.

    I don't care what you do in your beds, just keep your hand out of my pocket.

    by the mom in the middle on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 06:57:39 AM PST

  •  Too bad NYT wont keep (11+ / 0-)

    and share the results, statistically.

    All they will let you do is twitter the results.

    Boy does that completely piss me off.

    But this is isn't about actually solving anything.

    It's only about selling newspapers (or commercials or whatever the fuck else they are selling today)

    Or getting you to sign up for twitter.

  •  I solved the Deficit!!! (10+ / 0-)
    Twice. Same choices.

    - I didn't touch Medicare or Social Security except to tax high income individuals. No raise in eligibility for either.

    - I cut the military waste, contractors and pet programs and pulled troops out of where they don't need to be, but not support for veterans.

    - I enacted sensible tax reform to eliminate or reduce tax deductions and benefits for the wealthy and they wouldn't have to dramatically alter their lifestyle.

    - I enacted a bank tax to make our banking system stronger by taxing according to the risks a bank takes in the market.

    Overall I had 45% cuts in spending (which you can't do without cutting military waste) and 55% new revenues from sensible tax reform aimed at those who are the richest and in the least need.

    I am damn proud of myself. What is so dogdamn frustrating is that the fight will mostly be about Medicare and Social Security because the politicians will take the military spending off the table. Progressives need to unite on that front and not allow those cuts to be taken off the table.

  •  Interesting graphic (8+ / 0-)

    I wish it had more options though, such as raising taxes for the wealthy beyond what they were in the Clinton years.

  •  I did it with a combination (6+ / 0-)

    of 71% tax increases and 29% expenditure decreases -- and I did not touch Social Security or Medicare benefits.

    God is a concept by which we measure our pain -- John Lennon Oct. 9, 1940 - Dec. 8 1980

    by Its the Supreme Court Stupid on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 07:03:01 AM PST

  •  I solved the deficit. Rich people won't like it (9+ / 0-)

    Cut foreign aid in half
    Eliminate farm subsidies
    Cut 250,000 gov't. contractors
    Reduce nuclear arsenal & space spending
    Reduce military to pre-Iraq war size and further reduce troops in Asia & Europe
    Reduce Navy & Air Force fleets
    Cancel or delay some weapons programs
    Reduce # of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan to 30,000 by 2013
    Return the estate tax to Clinton era levels
    Return rates to Clinton era levels
    Allow Bush tax cuts to expire for income above 250K
    Subject some incomes abot $106K to tax
    Millionaire's tax on income above 1 million
    Eliminate loopholes but keep taxes slightly higher
    Reduce mortgage interest deduction by converting to credit.
    Carbon Tax
    Bank Tax

    Done.  Rich people pay their fair share and are required to actually produce something to make money rather than rely on tax breaks and deductions while the rest of us subsidize them.  We don't need the huge military we have and we need to be very particular about who gets foreign aid.  

    •  I solved it. (4+ / 0-)

      But I didn't touch foreign aid at all, nor did I reduce Navy & Air Force fleets (sadly, I think we need to keep them at what they are with China rising).  I also didn't reduce the mortgage interest deduction - that one I urge you to consider carefully.  The ones who benefit the most from that deduction today are people below that $250K line trying to hang on to their house who might have a mortgage that is adjusting.  I feel pretty strongly that we need to keep the deduction as is so as not to add to the overall foreclosure picture.

      •  Fleets (0+ / 0-)

        reduce Navy & Air Force fleets

        Right. Reluctantly, I have to agree that the only things that keeps the United States safe are the oceans between us and practically everyone else. We can cut military spending on ICBMs, yet-more-advanced tanks, and $2 billion bombers, but cutting the fleet? I'm not so sure about that one.

    •  My issue with cutting contractors (0+ / 0-)

      was the ripple effect it might have on jobs.  So I left um working, it's a rough economy out there!

      Here is a test to find whether your mission on earth is finished: If you're alive, it isn't.

      by EdgedInBlue on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 07:26:23 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Yours is the best solution presented here! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tchrldy

      Almost identical to mine.

      Read pp. 1-7 of Krugman's _The Great Unraveling_ (available from Google Books). NOW.

      by neroden on Mon Nov 15, 2010 at 01:41:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Seems pretty easy. (4+ / 0-)

    Spending cuts

    1.  Farm subsidies
    1.  Govt contractors
    1.  Nuclear Arsenal
    1.  Return size of military to pre-Iraq
    1.  Cancel/delay weapons systems
    1.  Reduce troops in Iraq/Afghan by 2013
    1.  Reduce SS benefits for high income earners

    Tax increases

    1.  Return estate taxes to Clinton era
    1.  Return capital gain/dividend taxes to Clinton era
    1.  Bush tax cuts expire for those above 250K
    1.  Payroll tax increase above 106K
    1.  Millionaire tax
    1.  Eliminate tax loopholes at higher rates
    1.  Reduce mortgage interest deduction
    1.  Carbon Tax
    1.  Bank Tax

    I'm actually in favor of eliminating the mortgage interest deduction, willing to consider reducing the health insurance deduction (seeing as those who buy their own don't get it).

    Not mentioned is corporate tax rates.  I find it odd that a local landscaping business that makes 1 million in profits pays $350,000 in taxes, while when Exxon has 20 billion in profits, it pays no taxes and instead gets a refund of 140 million from the govt.  Loopholes mean corporations in the country have an effective tax rate on profits of around 3-4%.  Seems to me if you cut out loopholes and tax credits, and dropped the corporate tax rate to 10-15%, you collect alot more money from the huge guys while at the same time significantly lightening the load on local small businesses.

    To further help small business and the self employed, I'm also in favor of completely uncapping the payroll tax to cover all income, eliminating the portion of the payroll tax paid by employers, and adjusting the rates on employees to maintain payroll tax revenues.  Approximately 50% of income is earned by those making more than 100K, and I'm assuming that only 20% of this income is subject to the SSI tax.  That means the payroll tax rate would have to rise from 7.65% to approximately 10.3% to cover the 7.65% tax paid by employers or individuals subject to self employment tax.  Food for thought.

    •  Farm subsidies (0+ / 0-)

      Farm subsidies really should be reformed, not eliminated. Before farm subsidies, farmers would go broke all the time due to variations in year-to-year crop yield, which creates a cycle of rural poverty. Some kind of farm support really is essential: we should just be subsidizing the right crops.

      While I don't think Michael Pollin's dream of wholly local, no-till, pesticide-free, and genetic-modification free food system is feasible, we can definitely go a long way toward eliminating the corn and soybean biculture.

      I'm with you on the tax increases though.

  •  Social Security isn't a cause of the shortfall (9+ / 0-)

    SS is running a surplus and won't fall short until 2037 yet this graphic claims SS is part of our current problem.

  •  How About Fixing Jobs? (6+ / 0-)

    I encourage everybody to go over and spend a few minutes with this interactive graphic.

    I'd rather encourage everyone to consider why, when we are facing a possible double-dip recession, everyone is worried about the deficit all of a sudden.

    Rather than contributing to this irrational obsession, let's spend our time thinking about how we can pressure our nation's elites into thinking about issues that actually effect Americans today.

    "I trust that you will continue to let me and other Democrats know when you believe we are screwing up." - Barack Obama

    by GreenSooner on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 07:15:22 AM PST

  •  What?! No option for immediate end to Pointless (5+ / 0-)

    Wars? None of this deficit angst is worthy of consideration until the MIC Death machines in Iraq and Afganistan grind to a halt.

    Sig: Epiphany reached. They are Looters, NOT Leaders.© We are on our own.

    by CitizenOfEarth on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 07:16:18 AM PST

  •  Pretty limited choices. (8+ / 0-)

    How about allowing Medicare to negotiate for lower prescription drug costs, or a public option?  I guess those things are never going to be on the table.

  •  I solved the deficit in 15 minutes. (13+ / 0-)

    The NY Times piece is a great tool, and I think this can be used very effectively to counter some of the most polarizing sound bites and start people actually engaging with reality.  Technology can dispel the notion that this is too hard for ordinary citizens to understand or that our congressional reps are privy to something that we don't have.  It's all right here.
    For me, the thing that the exercise made most stark is the drain the bloated military is on our nation's well-being.  Cuts to the military and taxing the rich somewhat more aggressively went a long way to solving the deficit.  
    The problem is not economics, it's politics.

  •  1 Trillion Surplus by 2030 (6+ / 0-)
    is my best attempt. This is not fun and games time for those over 365,000 dollars, allegedly the most "productive and deserving" class of Americans, the Republican Base. Or should I say, the most connected and manipulative clientele to the international money machine.

    But if we are serious about the American National Security problem; a once-great nation with universal values and defender of them to the world, going under, having to bow to China and Saudi Arabia, and having no future for the grandkids, I say, let the Upper Classes eat cake! They have had 30 years of my tax money to play with, and now its time for them to get serious about their, and my, homeland security.

    Figures don't lie, but liars do figure-Mark Twain

    by OregonOak on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 07:25:44 AM PST

  •  I'm at: (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    marykk, rini6

    48% tax increases, 52% cuts. I checked:

    Eliminate farm subsidies, Cut aid to states by 5 percent, Reduce nuclear arsenal and space spending, Reduce military to pre-Iraq War size and further reduce troops in Asia and Europe, Reduce the number of troops in Iraq and Afghanist to 30,000 by 2013, Cap Medicare growth starting in 2013, President Obama’s proposal (on existing taxes), President Obama’s proposal (on investment taxes), Allow expiration (of Bush Tax Cuts) for income above $250,000 a year, Payroll tax: Subject some incomes above $106,000 to tax, Eliminate loopholes, but keep taxes slightly higher, and Carbon tax.

    Shop Liberally this holiday season at Kos Katalogue

    by Timbuk3 on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 07:26:27 AM PST

  •  The Moody Loner plan (4+ / 0-)

    while waiting for WoW  patches to download:

    Surplus!

    I can even afford not to drop the Bush tax cuts for the rich. I do it anyway because fuck you.

    Are you on the Wreck List? Horde on Garrosh.

    by Moody Loner on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 07:27:23 AM PST

  •  Well I gues I'm never getting elected (5+ / 0-)

    63% Tax increases

    37% Spending cuts, with essentially all of them being military related.

    I don't think this bodes well for my public office future.

    "They proved that if you quit smoking, it will prolong your life. What they haven't proved is that a prolonged life is a good thing." - Bill Hicks

    by Moon Mop on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 07:30:00 AM PST

  •  I did two plans... (13+ / 0-)

    ... one democratic (reduce military spending, roll-back tax cuts to Clinton-era, add tax to million+ incomes, etc) and I solved the 2015 deficit, and took over half off the 2030 one.

    ... one republican, where I avoided anything that even resembled a tax increase. Instead, I cut cut cut cut cut cut. I didn't even halve the 2013 deficit.

    Clear as day, in my book. Mind you, this is the weevil New York Tynes newsrag, so the repugs won't like it one bit anyways.

  •  So I got it done (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    IL JimP

    40% from tax increases and 60% from spending cuts
    Eliminate earmarks
    Eliminate farm subsidies
    Cut 250,000 government contractors
    Reduce nuclear arsenal and space spending
    Reduce military to pre-Iraq War size and further reduce troops in Asia and Europe
    Cancel or delay some weapons programs
    Reduce the number of troops in Iraq and Afghanist to 30,000 by 2013
    Enact medical malpractice reform (my bone to the Republicans)
    Cap Medicare growth starting in 2013
    Reduce Social Security benefits for those with high incomes
    President Obama's proposal on estate taxes
    Investment taxes Obama's proposal
    Bush Tax cuts Obama's proposal
    Millionaires surtax
    Carbon tax
    Bank Tax

    In the choice between changing ones mind and proving there's no need to do so, most people get busy on the proof.

    by jsfox on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 07:34:47 AM PST

    •  I think that was (0+ / 0-)

      pretty close to what I chose too.  There were some differences, I want to go over to have a surplus to start to lower our overall national debt.

      "Villains who twirl their mustaches are easy to spot; those who clothe themselves in good deeds are well camouflaged."

      by IL JimP on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 08:37:15 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'm one of those who sees this graphic (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Bob Love

      as too centrist.

      Nonetheless, I balanced the budget for 2015 and sliced a major portion from the 2030 defict without cutting earmarks, subsidies, or eliminating governement workers and cutting their salaries.

      Return to Clinton era levels on estate and investment taxes. (the President's proposals, IMO, don't go far enough.)

      I checked all the cuts in military spending except for veterans benefits. IMO we could seriously reduce our overseas presence to save more. And of course I favor the end of the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan so there are still further savings.

      IMO, elimninating two-thirds of the projected 2030 debt is sufficient since we have no idea what the economic situation will be in 2020 let alone 2030.

      I agree with others who have written that even with a centrist frame, the budget can be balanced without touching Social Security.

      A proud member of the Professional Left since 1967.

      by slatsg on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 11:14:59 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  On taxes, I put everything at Clinton levels (6+ / 0-)

    with no millionaire tax.  I cut some military spending, and capped Medicare growth to GDP+1.  I got half tax increases and half spending cuts.

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White

    by zenbassoon on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 07:36:02 AM PST

  •  That seemed too easy (4+ / 0-)

    My approach was to avoid anything that could reduce consumer spending or increased unemployment. No point cutting 10% of goverment workers if you have to then pay them social security, it would reduce their spending and effect businesses possibly causing them to lay off workers. I think this is the mistake the British government are making

    I also tried to keep any tax burden off of the lower income groups, partially because it'd effect them disproportionately more but also because they are more likely to spend money and help their local economy.

    My plan:
    Eliminate earmarks
    Eliminate Farm Subsidies
    Reduce all Military spending listed except benefits for the reasons cited above.
    Reduce troop levels to 30k
    No cuts to health care or social security
    Return both taxes to Clinton levels and expire tax cuts on the top 2%
    Eliminate loopholes
    Add Sales tax, carbon tax and Bank tax

    I'd also raise tax on car fuel and subsidise green fuels

    •  Sales tax raises "burden on lower income groups" (9+ / 0-)

      It's the most regressive tax there is. Maybe it isn't the case elsewhere, but here in the landowner-dominated South that seems to be the way local governments raise money without disturbing the politically engaged property owners (one reason the schools suck here). So in the poorest counties in Alabama you have 12% sales tax in a state in which food and clothing are not exempt. People who already have to pay higher amounts for the ordinary expenses of life (predatory lending rates,  high-priced stores with less selection, groceries at the convenience store, having to maintain old junkers because there's no mass transit, etc.) don't need another 5% tacked on by the federal government. The rich will barely notice it. And the states and counties will never take their own sales taxes back.

      •  Taxes on FOOD! OMG! That is evil! n/t (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Val, freesia
      •  Maybe I'm so used to it (0+ / 0-)

        We pay 17.5% tax on almost everything, 20% from Janurary. While it's not fair, it's not that bad either. Maybe I'm just used to it. Perhaps they could have a system that varies based on the state sale tax so everyone pays the same. Maybe that would just encourage states to raise their own taxes though.

        Healthy food should be exempt, maybe locally grown fruits and vegetables and things like baby food.

        I don't see why the democrats would have to eliminate the deficit entirely anyway, as we heard Clinton left a surplus and Bush ran up the debt. Even if Obama wipes it out by 2017 chances are it'll be tax cuts all round if a republican got elected.

  •  Can cut $1,000b defense by only $200b; why? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    The Wizard, Willa Rogers

    If we spend about one trillion on so-called defense per year, why can I only cut it by $200 billion per year?  Is $800 billion per year mandatory spending to bail out retired generals perhaps?  No that can not be because discretionary spending for 2011 is $1.2 trillion of which 60%, i.e., $7 billion, is http://nationalpriorities.org/...

    Why would I use a tool if I do not understand what the hell it means?

    Can somebody explain to me why the numbers make no sense?

    •  I think it's (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ferg, peternight

      mainly based on the Chairman report put out this week.  Not all the choices that are actually available.

      "Villains who twirl their mustaches are easy to spot; those who clothe themselves in good deeds are well camouflaged."

      by IL JimP on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 08:38:19 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Got it: a tool to perpetuate insanity! (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        fayea, IL JimP, Willa Rogers

        You are probably right, but why would we, DKos critical thinkers, want to join the NY Times, of Judith Miller fame, and blindly adhere to the Chairman's "Washington Rules?"

        •  I don't understand it, either... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          peternight, IL JimP

          ...because it's agenda-setting that takes many good ideas off the table while foisting the ridiculous (Medicare pushed back to 68 or 70? Really?) on us.

          There's some good options when it comes to non-healthcare items, but it's still far too narrow of a range, and I fear it's acclimating us to accept the even narrower range of final recs to come from the commission.

        •  I think it's (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          peternight

          about the exercise.  I don't know how to create these things, but if you know someone who can maybe they can make one that includes all the choices available in the budget.  That may be a good tool to see where changes could be made.

          "Villains who twirl their mustaches are easy to spot; those who clothe themselves in good deeds are well camouflaged."

          by IL JimP on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 11:13:53 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  We have a tool: our brain (0+ / 0-)

            It's a lot of work to make these things.  We, amateurs do not have the time.  The pros present facts that are correct in their own way, but at the end of the they perpetuate a lie: the numbers just do not add up.  

            Listen to Chris Hedges http://www.grittv.org/... talk about his latest book The Death of The Liberal Class.  He explains precisely what's going on here, and has some choice words specifically for the NY Times.  Believe it or not, I found that interview after we started our little exchange here, and I could not agree more.

            •  As we've seen (0+ / 0-)

              that tool doesn't always work.  These types of interactive tools make it easier for everyday people to understand a pretty complex issue.

              "Villains who twirl their mustaches are easy to spot; those who clothe themselves in good deeds are well camouflaged."

              by IL JimP on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 03:01:38 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

  •  So easy! (6+ / 0-)

    I just cut bloated military contracts and increased taxes on the rich.

    Problem solved.

    my plan

    An eye for an eye and the whole world will be blind.

    by rini6 on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 07:51:18 AM PST

  •  and I would emphasize nothing is 'broken' (5+ / 0-)

    Fixing the deficit is about as important as fixing Muslims or fixing women or fixing college football.

    Certainly, there are challenges and tradeoffs. Some policies are better than others depending upon the desired outcomes.

    But there is nothing inherently or urgently problematic. The main question of fiscal policy is not the rather arbitrary difference in cash flows between what comes in and what goes out, but rather, what the money is spent on.

    It's our priorities for resource allocation, not the deficit, that needs fixing.

    Minor tweaks to the tax code, universal insurance programs, and reductions in defense spending to match the rest of the world more than handle any 'problems'.

    Ask your Member of Congress what they're doing to put Americans back to work.

    by washunate on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 07:53:47 AM PST

  •  That was easy: cut MIC to reasonable size, (5+ / 0-)

    single payer, tax the filthy rich.

    Remember the Pelicans

    by Irons33 on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 07:57:02 AM PST

  •  I ran one hell of a surplus (6+ / 0-)

    Military got reduced

    Taxes were balanced.

    I would increase the carbon tax further.

    Then use the excess to fund a 'green' revolution.

    The MIC can be converted to civilian needs.

    "Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." Arundhati Roy

    by LaFeminista on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 07:58:33 AM PST

  •  Balanced. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Clytemnestra, marykk

    26% "new" taxes (some were actually just letting the old breaks expire)

    the balance cuts--mainly to the military....

    Evolution is so obsolete, gotta stamp your hands and clap your feet! Gotta dance like a monkey, dance like a monkey, child.

    by espresso on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 07:59:24 AM PST

  •  Thanks for pointing that out. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ferg, billlaurelMD, Clytemnestra, marykk

    That was fun and not very painful at all. Wish I had a couple more options in there... Single Payer and transaction fees on derivative trades...

    I'm a huge fan of the MARXIST SOCIALIST NUTLICKER BULLSHIT CHANNEL

    by RustyCannon on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 07:59:38 AM PST

  •  There are even more options... (5+ / 0-)

    that the New York Times does not mention.  I tried this exercise as well.  I checked all the military spending cuts and returning all tax rates to Clinton era levels.  This closed all the short term deficits and greatly narrowed the long term deficit.  Without touching Social Security, Medicare, Bush's tax cuts for people making under $250,000 per year, or any medical spending.  But there are further progressive changes that were not listed.  Some of these are: Increased estate taxes on very large estates; further increases in marginal income tax rates on very large incomes (over $1,000,000 per year), enormous savings to be realized from single payer health care and increased corporate tax rates.  None of these touch the middle class - many, in fact, would help them, and yet they would completely close all the deficits and leave a significant surplus to rebuild our country.  Remember that under Eisenhower, the highest marginal income tax rate was a whopping 90%, and corporate taxes now pay a much lower share of the federal budget than they did back in the 1950s and 1960s, when living standards for the middle class were rising and the economy was booming.  And this does not even mention the long term savings to the economy from investing in renewable energy (wind and solar) to wean us off fossil fuels.  

    "There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible but in the end they always fail. Always." -Gandhi

    by Grandma Susie on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 08:02:12 AM PST

  •  Overton Window in effct (6+ / 0-)

    Why limit taxes to Clinton era rates? If we re-institute the tax rates of the 1940s to 1960s (the most prosperous era in our history) I suspect that in itself would balance the budget.

    Throw in a 50% cut in military expenditures and get out of the Middle East and we'd probably be in surplus.

    That's the answer, but our billionaire overlords and their military-industrial complex won't have it.  But it should be discussed.  We may do that eventually, but only after the Great Depression II (which we haven't seen yet.)  It took the Depression to get tax rates from the low rates of the 1920s to an appropriate level for a modern democracy.

  •  Combination of (4+ / 0-)

    Medicare for everyone (which is not even an option, but would wildly reduce medical expenditures) and returning taxes to Pre-Clinton levels does the job.  

    Cutting military engagements in Iraq and Afghan. puts you way over the top.

    Denial is complicity.

    by Publius2008 on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 08:11:20 AM PST

  •  I did it and had a surplus of (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ferg, James Kresnik, Ann T Bush

    about 100 billion by 2015
    and 300 billion by 2030

    I had almost an even mix of savings from tax increases (51%) and spending cuts (49%)

    I also put much back at Clinton levels.

    But then the Republicans will come in and instead of being pragmatic conservatives looking at the surplus as a "rainy day fund" they will yell about confiscatory taxes and the government holding the people's money hostage ... and then wipe it all out.

    sigh

    but if I can do it ...

    Here's my plan

    • Cut 250,000 government contractors
    • Reduce military to pre-Iraq War size and further reduce troops in Asia and Europe
    • Cancel or delay some weapons programs
    • Reduce the number of troops in Iraq and Afghanist to 30,000 by 2013
    • Cap Medicare growth starting in 2013 (I'm really not sure about this one and feel that a lot was left out of the explanation)
    • Reduce Social Security benefits for those with high incomes
    • Return the estate tax to Clinton-era levels
    • Return investment tax rates to Clinton-era levels
    • Allow expiration for income above $250,000 a year
    • Millionaire's tax on income above $1 million
    • Eliminate loopholes, but keep taxes slightly higher Carbon tax

    Bumper sticker seen on I-95; "Stop Socialism" my response: "Don't like socialism? GET OFF the Interstate highway!"

    by Clytemnestra on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 08:12:27 AM PST

  •  I solved it and (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    emal, Ann T Bush

    didn't cut Social Security or Medicare.

    Hmmm. Wonder why our corporate bought politicians can't solve it?

  •  obviously the only answer to the deficit problem (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Inland, alba, DawnN

    is to disband Congress and run the government by interactive referendum!

    Why didn't the Founders think of that, that is really government by the People For The People.

    •  They did that (0+ / 0-)

      to protect the rights of the white, wealthy, land-owning minority. However, they also frequently groused about the bad influence of rapacious speculators, national bankers, dangerous foreign entanglements and wars and wasting partisan politics. Sometimes, they were quite a mixed bag.

      Every politician in America is sounding like that mayor in Jaws. -global citizen

      by James Kresnik on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 07:43:29 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The choices are too limited (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    peternight, fayea, Willa Rogers

    I would like to cut defense spending by more than they allow. I would like to raise taxes on the rich, in particular those making more than 5 million, 10 million and 20 million a year by more than they allow. I would also like to reduce medical costs by implementing single payer for all. I would also like to spend enough to reach full employment - more revenue. I would also like to flatten social security tax so it is on all earned income.

    Oh well, so much for a poor interactive diagram.

    Practice tolerance, kindness and charity.

    by LWelsch on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 08:35:28 AM PST

  •  A missing Social Security option ... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    burrow owl, CuriousBoston

    Notable is the missing option(s) of raising the tax ceiling of those paying Social Security taxes.

    If we simply raise the income level at which SS taxes are collected from $106K+ to 1.5 or 2 times the current level, the effect would be dramatic. Raising eligibility age is not the only, or even fairest, way to save on SS.

    Not to mention, SS is not a drain on the budget, in my view. The "drain" comes from "borrowing" SS funds, then claiming that repayment of those "borrowings" is a cost.

    Political Correctness Police: may your puckered, disapproving lips forever cover your donuts.

    by FeloniousMonk on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 08:36:46 AM PST

    •  Ultimately, wouldn't there be no effect (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sparhawk, coffeetalk, FeloniousMonk

      since we'd wind up having to pay a larger benefit to the people that are paying a larger tax?  

      •  Per SSA, raising the cap would close the (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        FeloniousMonk

        liquidity gap over a 75-year horizon, but not over the infinite horizon.  ie, it's a pretty good medium-term fix.

        link.

      •  I'm not sure that's required. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        burrow owl

        Wouldn't future payments be disconnected from increased taxes? ... they sure are in every other area.

        Do you have a cite to back that up? ... not being a wise guy, just wanting to know if this is conjecture or firm knowledge.

        Political Correctness Police: may your puckered, disapproving lips forever cover your donuts.

        by FeloniousMonk on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 09:25:19 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  The SS benefit is calculated based on the (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          fayea, FeloniousMonk

          taxable earnings, so if you raise the tax cap you necessarily raise the benefit cap unless that latter is specifically capped.  

          If you meant uncapping tax while leaving a cap on benefits, though, I think the SSA link above notes that that would bring a much greater degree of solvency over the infinite horizon.

          •  Thus the confusion ... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            burrow owl

            I have proposed this solution before. When I do, someone usually points out to me that benefits are not directly tied to collections of the tax.

            I confess to not having done my homework on the subject ... and I should. My question to you is, do you know collections and benefits are procedurally tied together, or is that an assumption?

            Again, not being a wise guy, genuinely interested.

            Aside from that discussion, ensuring that collections are disconnected from benefits would carry it's own set of consequences ... consequences worth discussing. Agreed?

            Political Correctness Police: may your puckered, disapproving lips forever cover your donuts.

            by FeloniousMonk on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 09:48:47 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Good question (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              fayea, FeloniousMonk, tardis10

              This is a messy subject, and people usually just discuss raising the cap on taxes w/o addressing the effect on benefits, w/ the end result that it's rarely clear what they intend w/re/to the benefit.  And I've had different people say they meant different things when I ask the follow up re: benefits.  There doesn't seem to be a default "here's what I mean."

              re: your question: it looks like there the caps are analytically tied together.  The "benefit base" is the max that the benefit is calculated on, and the tax is calculated w/ reference to that.  That said, I'm far from an expert in this area, so I could easily imagine being wrong.

              * The benefit cap is at 42 USC 415(a)(1)(B).  The tax is at 26 USC 3121(a)(1), and its cap is defined by way of reference to the benefits section.

              •  Since the SS tax cap (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                burrow owl

                may be the simplest solution, this may be an area for you and I and other DKosers to review.

                I guess, what we've established is that the relationship between tax collections, benefits and subsequent effects on recipients and those taxed ... and the ensuing effect on the economy. is not well understood.

                Maybe this is a valid area for research. The dollars involved may have significant effect on our economy.

                Maybe it's just yours and my lack of knowledge ... or maybe it's an area with large potential for good/bad effect, and one not well understood by DKosers and the electorate in general

                Burrow Owl, you've been around longer than I. Is it worth bringing to the attention of the FPers?

                Political Correctness Police: may your puckered, disapproving lips forever cover your donuts.

                by FeloniousMonk on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 11:10:54 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

    •  It's there, just not under the SS options. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FeloniousMonk

      It's under the Bush tax cuts part of the Taxes section. Under Payroll tax, I think.

      •  Hmmm ... didn't know that. (0+ / 0-)

        I didn't know it had been proposed at all. I thought it too logical [grin] for our current crop of form-before-substance pols.

        Gonna check this out. Thanks.

        Political Correctness Police: may your puckered, disapproving lips forever cover your donuts.

        by FeloniousMonk on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 09:21:34 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I think this shows (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ferg, 3goldens, Magnifico, theal8r

    that we have to return to Clinton-era taxes along with a new millionaire tax, a carbon tax, and a bank tax.  I tried a few combos, and the budget can't be balanced without some kind of tax increase.  We also have to cut military spending.

    I'm SO TICKED OFF at the Bush tax cuts; people at the time were willing to sacrifice for the US and didn't want the cuts.

  •  What did you cap the medical benefits at? n/t (0+ / 0-)
  •  Done! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ann T Bush

    Gee, that was easy.  I didn't eliminate the budget deficit in 2030 but I created a surplus in 2015.  Thanks for the link.

  •  54% tax increases, 46% cuts (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blue jersey mom, Matisyahu

    Most of my cuts came from military spending, except for vets benefits. I cut farm subsidies, Fed pay, & federal contractors.  I capped Medicare growth, only because it was either that or cut social security benefits.  I wish they had explained in more detail what capping Medicare growth would mean in real world terms.  I did malpractice reform as well.  The rich would really hate me-I returned the Clinton-era Estate Tax & included a millionaire's tax.  I used the Obama proposal for taxes on investments & for the Bush tax cuts-keep for middle class, let ones for rich expire.  I raised the cap for the payroll tax.  I don't know why they didn't include the idea of enrolling all new state & Fed. workers in Social Security though.  I put in a carbon tax.

    My results: $372B surplus in 2015, $600B surplus in 2030.

    "I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass... and I'm all out of bubblegum."

    by mark louis on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 08:41:54 AM PST

  •  My principles (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ferg, mark louis
    1. Avoid imposing a national sales tax (highly regressive);
    1. Avoid raising the retirement age above 68 (frankly, I think retirement ages should be industry-specific, but that obviously wasn't a choice here);
    1. Avoid cutting federal workforce or pay (as a federal employee, I think we don't get paid NEARLY enough compared to what we could get in the private sector).

    On taxes, I returned all taxes to Clinton-era levels, imposed a millionaire tax, did the super version of the Erskine/Bowles plan, and imposed a carbon tax (more for policy than budgetary reasons).

    On spending, I capped Medicare growth, cut weapons programs, eliminated earmarks and farm subsidies (again, more for policy than budgetary reasons), and enacted medmal reform.

    Result: 55% tax increases, 45% spending cuts.

    Preaching to the choir and then shooting them when they don't sing loud enough isn't a good strategy for increasing the size of the congregation.

    by Matisyahu on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 08:44:46 AM PST

  •  thanks New Deal democrat (4+ / 0-)

    for the links

    and for actually writing "at least 3 paragraphs of original content"

    to actual make this a Diary!

    T&R

    I wonder if the SS Commission, has a tool this simple?

    I seriously doubt it.  All they have is tired rhetoric,

    and an excess of Hot Air!


    Where's the Note?    -- SEIU

    by jamess on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 08:46:25 AM PST

    •  It's the catfood commission's recs... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      3goldens, jamess

      ...mixed with Pete Peterson's parallel commission's recs, plus a couple of thinktanks. Look at the sources:

      New York Times analysis of data provided by Alan Auerbach and William Gale; Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget; Tax Policy Center; Congressional Budget Office; Sustainable Defense Task Force; Cato Institute; Economic Policy Institute; National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform; Joint Committee on Taxation; Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services; Social Security Administration

  •  I wish they had decoupled space spending... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    quotemstr, CuriousBoston

    ...from nuclear arsenal.  I think we should be spending more on space exploration, not less.

    Preaching to the choir and then shooting them when they don't sing loud enough isn't a good strategy for increasing the size of the congregation.

    by Matisyahu on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 08:49:50 AM PST

  •  Interesting exercise - I turned out (3+ / 0-)

    to be a tax-loving liberal with a 70% tax increase, 30% spending reductions mix . .

  •  Make every member of congress fill this out (6+ / 0-)

    and publish the results.  It was easy, and would be even easier and more palatable with some nuanced options, but a great start.

  •  Don't Touch the Medicare Cap (6+ / 0-)

    Many commenters have been seduced by the Medicare cap at GDP+1.  I think that could end up very badly.

    I left that alone, and did the other progressive things, didn't touch govt. spending or SS, and easily solved the 2015 shortfall and got about 80% of the 2030 shortfall (which in any rational universe is plenty good enough).

    Don't be seduced.  No cuts to Medicare or SS of any sort.  We should cut down on the fraud and abuse of the system (to the extent it exists), pay the medical providers fairly, and if there's money leftover, then extend Medicare coverage to earlier ages.

    Very reasonable restraint of military spending and very reasonable taxes on the wealthy essentially solves the problem.  The deficit was caused by trickle-down economics, so the solution has to start at the top.

  •  That was fun. Didn't need to get near SS or (6+ / 0-)

    Medicare.

    I really think we need to get really mad and run the top rates back to Eisenhower era.  THEN lower SS retirement age to 55, have single payer and make college free to all who qualify. but I'm not socialist or anything ........

    Kos Katalogue for the besstest stuff

    by maybeeso in michigan on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 09:12:07 AM PST

  •  This graphic does one thing really well. (6+ / 0-)

    It destroys the village's, and right wing's argument that the middle class has to carry some of the burden of balancing the budget.

    It doesn't. Cut the military budget, and go back to Clinton tax levels, and that largely solves the problem.

    That was really easy.

    To believe without knowing is weakness; to believe because one knows, is power. Éliphas Lévi

    by Jahiz on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 09:14:32 AM PST

    •  Re (0+ / 0-)

      Who do you think the military is composed of? The rich? Even defense contractors are manned mostly by comparatively well-paid middle class people.

      I mean, by all means let's cut wherever we have to. But don't think that middle class people won't be hurt by the cuts. They will. A lot.

      (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
      Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

      by Sparhawk on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 09:52:48 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I didn't see my suggestion... (5+ / 0-)
    ...put a toll both at the end of every driveway of every mansion in the country.  Charge the rich $5000.00 every time they want to use the roads the public paid for.

    Hey, at least we didn't raise their taxes!

    When you punch enough holes through steerage, the first-class cabins sink with the rest of the ship.

    by Roddy McCorley on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 09:18:45 AM PST

  •  One of the worst suggestions that came out (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ferg, happymisanthropy, CuriousBoston

    of the cat food commission was lowering the overall tax rates for businesses and high income earners. that should be a non-starter.

  •  I'm not sure this is a positive exercise (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sparhawk, burrow owl

    The problem is that, in a fantasy world where I was king, sure I could solve the deficit/long term debt problem.  Sure I could raise taxes in areas where I wanted (mainly where neither I, nor the groups I care about, would pay them) and cut spending in areas where I wanted (mainly in areas where neither I, nor the groups I care about, would bear the burden).   Any single person, or any homogeneous group, can do that.  Those on the left can simply say, "Let's cut defense spending and tax the rich into oblivion!  Problem solved!"  Those on the right can simply say, "Let's drastically reduce spending across the board, and then drastically revamp social programs like Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security!  Problem solved!"

    The problem is that no single person and no homogeneous group is going to have carte blanche to solve the deficit/long term debt problem.  Any plan to seriously address the deficit/long term debt problem is going to have to pass a politically divided government.  The left is going to have to give on some of their principles, and the right is going to have to give on some of their principles, or nothing is going to happen.  That is reality. Neither side can do anything significant without the support of the other side.  

    I worry that an exercise like this does nothing more than harden the positions of both sides, making the likelihood of anything getting done that much more remote.  

    •  partly right (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      quotemstr

      This is a blunt instrument that leaves a lot to be desired.  The good thing is that it shows at least the order of magnitude options for different parts of the budget and reveals how pitiful some of the popular hits like earmarks are.  And the choice for Medicare is a real meataxe (there is a lot of waste to manage without draconian limits).  Maybe a better tool would give ranges to be saved in, say defense, health care, etc and we could plug in actual figures within that range to achieve the goal.  That would more realistically match the political situation too.

    •  let the bush tax cuts expire (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      quotemstr, Willa Rogers

      We can solve half the problem by doing nothing at all, because the Bush tax cuts expire automatically.

      All Obama needs to do is reverse his stupid plan to extend the Bush tax cuts, insist on a veto, and we're basically done.

      The deficit is only a big problem because Obama is insisting on making it a big problem.

      •  Politically impossible, however (0+ / 0-)

        because of Obama's ironclad campaign promise that he would not raise taxes on families under $250,000, "not one dime" he said over and over and over.  If Obama supported allowing all of the Bush tax cuts to expire, he'd pretty much doom his re-election chances.  There would be commercial after commercial showing video clips of his election promise interposed with his support for significantly raising income taxes on those under $250,000.  

        Remember, the vast, vast majority of the revenue saved by letting the Bush tax cuts expire is the revenue that would come from families UNDER $250,000 a year.  Families UNDER $250,000 account for about $3.3 trillion over 10 years; families OVER $250,000 account for about $700 billion over the same period.

        This exactly proves my point.  In the abstract, if a single "king" could raise taxes without worrying about the political issues, he could simply let everybody who earns income pay more in federal income taxes and cut things like the EITC to the lower incomes (i.e., let the Bush tax cuts expire on everybody) and solve a lot of the problem.  Politically, however, that's probably impossible.

        •  he's also extending the cap-gains and estate tax (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          neroden, quotemstr, Willa Rogers

          So basically, he's bailed on his Democratic promises (public option), but keeping his Bush/Republican promises (massive budget-busting tax cuts).

        •  Not exactly true either, (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Tropical Depression

          given that almost all of the revenue saved by letting the Bush tax cuts expire is the revenue from the estate tax (n the superrich), and after that the revenue from dividends and capital gains, or in other words, unearned income.

          Retain the tax cuts for earned income, raise tax rates on unearned income, and you restore most of the revenue....

          but nobody EVER breaks it down this way.

          Read pp. 1-7 of Krugman's _The Great Unraveling_ (available from Google Books). NOW.

          by neroden on Mon Nov 15, 2010 at 03:01:37 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  This game seems a little rigged (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Andrew C White

    If the idea were deficit reduction, then there should be an option in the application that allows all dollars above the 2015 deficit to be applied to the debt -- thus reducing future obligations. I'd have clicked that button, bringing the debt down means we can do other things later.

    I hit the 2015 projection, and then some:

    1. Eliminate earmarks
    1. Eliminate farm subsidies
    1. Cut contractors (though in truth I'd probably offset this savings by replacing them with real federal employees)
    1. Reduce nuclear arsenal/space spending
    1. Reduce military to pre-Iraq War
    1. Reduce Navy fleet
    1. Cancel/delay weapons programs
    1. Reduce troops in Iraq/Afghanistan to 30k by 2013
    1. Estate tax to Clinton-era
    1. Investment tax to Clinton-era
    1. All Bush tax cuts expire (Yeah, I'm one of those -- raise my taxes and straighten things out)
    1. Raise payroll tax
    1. Millionaire tax
    1. Carbon tax
    1. Bank tax

    I'm at 69/31. Whee, I'm almost moderate compared to some of you guys. And I came in at $262bn over the 2015 shortfall. Time to pay down the debt!

  •  There are't enough options. (5+ / 0-)

    For example, "Expand Medicare to every American, with under 65 paying a premium for inclusion" isn't there, even though the commission identified it as a way to cut Medicare losses.

    Neither is "close every foreign military base located in friendly countries."

    You know what hope is? Hope is a bastard. Hope is a liar a cheat and tease. Hope comes near you, kick it's backside. It's got no place in days like these.

    by tbetz on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 09:27:39 AM PST

  •  Solving the DEBT Crisis (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DawnN
    This interactive graphic illustrates for us a real problem with our current "Democracy, for sale to the highest bidder."

    Almost any individual with a normal intelligence can work their way through these options and resolve an IMPOSSIBLE crisis in ten minutes or less.  Now, why cannot our elected leaders, who spend no less than eight hours of every day meeting with lobbyists and fundraisers, planning on the critical issue of their own re-election, were able to take Clinton's deficit and turn it into Bush's greatest recession since the great depression.

    Maybe what we need is a third house of unelected individuals, chosen at random from the general electorate, to oversee the workings of our bicameral legislature.  Just about the only conservative idea that I have read - and agreed with - was an idea posited by William F. Buckley.  Buckley said that he thought our Congress would be better with 435 names chosen at random from the general electorate than with the elected members who make up the Congress.

    A table such as the NY Times interactive graphic should be a requirement as an included part of every Form 1040 - and Listen carefully Supreme Court - Corporations are not people and they are not citizens and should not have a voice in the decisions of government.

    •  Re (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Bob Love, quotemstr, theal8r

      Almost any individual with a normal intelligence can work their way through these options and resolve an IMPOSSIBLE crisis in ten minutes or less.

      You have to take into account issues of structural economic reliance on the deficit.

      For example, cutting weapons programs. Companies like Lockheed, Raytheon, etc have local installations all over the place. While cutting these programs may be a good idea, the localities that depend on these programs structurally will go through a depression.

      The same issues occur with all "wasteful" spending. Cutting the deficit will be a good thing for the country as a whole, but it will be incredibly painful in the short term. No Congressperson is going to vote to cut $_PROGRAM that is in their district, so if you have a big bill with thousands of such cuts it will never pass.

      Loss of local jobs is a very visible thing, whereas reducing the deficit (a great thing, btw) is not very visible.

      (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
      Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

      by Sparhawk on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 09:44:45 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  55/45 (0+ / 0-)

    Taxes to Spending Cuts.

    -Cut Foreign Aid
    -Eliminate Earmarks
    -Cut Farm Subsidies
    -Cut 250K Govt. Contractors

    -Reduce Nuclear/Space Spending
    -Reduce Military / Pre Iraq Size
    -Reduce Navy/AF Fleets
    -Cancel/Delay Weapons Programs
    -Cut Noncombat Military Compensation

    -Reduce Iraq/Afghanistan Troops to 30K by 2013

    -Enact Medical Malpractice Reform

    -Reduce SS Benefits For those with High Incomes

    -Estate Tax to Clinton Levels
    -Investment Taxes to Clinton Levels

    -Bush Tax Cuts Expire for $250K and Up

    -Millionaire's Tax

    -Reduce Mortgage Deduction to Credit

    -Carbon Tax

    -Bank Tax

    2015 Budget
    $591 BN to $418 BN shortfall

    2030 Budget
    1,066 BN to 1,355 BN shortfall

    My plan erases deficit and then some for 2015, and meets almost 80% of shortfall for 2030.

    Mr. President, enact these plans.

  •  Bogus graphic (0+ / 0-)

    It has no way to remove the cap on FICA while keeping the cap on SS benefits.

    Hey Boehner! When are you gonna fixit?

    by Walt starr on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 09:46:09 AM PST

  •  Hey! I balanced the budget in no time! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    relentless, Allogenes, Ann T Bush

    70% tax increases and 30% spending cuts.

    Some false choices, mostly on defense, Medicare and Social Security. I'd get rid of 50% of ag subsidies and have it only apply to family farms not corporations or farms above a certain size. Mortgage deduction on one home only and stops at $1M of value.

    1. Defense.  US defense budget should be pegged to Russia, China defense spending.  US can spend 200% the combined spending of China and Russia.  Since personnel are biggest single cost and we want US service people to get well paid.  Return of the draft, possibly universal service to keep costs down and democracy up.
    1. Social Security - fully fund 65 retirement by eliminating upper limit on SS tax and applying tax to all income not just "payroll".
    1. Medicare - Medicare for All and tax accordingly. This saves US economy $800B a year which is huge economic stimulus in addition to taking admin burden off of US business.
  •  I solved the deficit! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    relentless

    I eliminated earmarks and farm subsidies, cut federal worker pay by 5%, reduced the federal workforce by 10%, reduced our nuclear arsenal, reduced the military to pre-Iraq War levels, reduced the Navy and Air Force fleets, canceled some wea...pons programs, reduced the number of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan to 30,000, enacted medical malpractice reform, reduced Social Security benefits to high income earners, returned the estate tax, the capital gains tax and the income tax on income over $250,00 to Clinton era levels, raised the ceiling slightly on the payroll tax, added a 5% tax on income over $1 million, added a small carbon tax and bank tax on risky ventures and was still billions short. So then I tightened requirements for claiming disability, but still way short. So, either I had to cut Medicare for seniors or health care for veterans, which I was unwilling to do. I could have raised the Social Security retirement age, but frankly, while the average life expectancy has gone up, it hasn't gone up for manual laborers. I can't make janitors, construction workers, cooks and factory workers work longer just because lawyers and congressman live to be over 90. With no other choice, I instituted a 5% national consumption sales tax and voila! Budget deficit solved through 2030. Of course, if the United States were to return to full employment, then I would keep all of the spending cuts, but start peeling back some of those tax increases.

    Montesquieu and Locke are rolling in their graves right now...

    by Mannabass on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 09:55:11 AM PST

    •  Don't like several of your choices. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      quotemstr, fayea
      •  Obviously. (0+ / 0-)

        I don't like several of my choices either.  If balancing the budget was fun and easy and only involved making choices we would want to make anyway, then the budget would be balanced now.
        In addition, you only get to work with the choices presented by the Times.
        My goal was to balance the budget without cutting Social Security benefits, Medicare or veteran's services.  I started with the obvious choices of cutting back military spending, then I raised capital gains, estate tax and income taxes above 250K back to Clinton era levels.  I also was fairly quick to eliminate farm subsidies and institute taxes on carbon and banking.  Doing all of that was no where close to balancing the budget.  That is where the hard decisions came into play.  The consumption tax was the final selection that balanced the budget.  I guess I could have just let all of the Bush tax cuts expire, that would have raised the same amount.

        Montesquieu and Locke are rolling in their graves right now...

        by Mannabass on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 01:24:25 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Sales/consumption tax is plutocratic (0+ / 0-)

          I guess I could have just let all of the Bush tax cuts expire, that would have raised the same amount.

          And letting the Bush tax cuts expire raises revenue in a way that's far more progressive than a consumption tax. A consumption tax is the most regressive tax that exists.

          As I said in another comment, if you want to screw the middle class to pay the bills of the rich, RedState is just a click away.

          •  Yes, I am completely against a consumption tax. (0+ / 0-)

            However, the usual RedState discussion of a consumption tax is one in the neighborhood of 20% that replaces the income tax.  Now that is as regressive as it gets and I obviously would never support that.  However, a 5% is a different animal.  It wouldn't amount to very much on small purchases but affected the budget game greatly.
            The fact of the matter is that the Bush tax cuts aren't tax cuts at all, they are deferred tax increases.  If you cut taxes without cutting spending, all you are doing is passing your tax burden on to the next generation.  That is fine for the baby boomers, apparently, but I think differently about my kids.  Whether you are talking about income or consumption tax, that fact is, the debt will have to be paid back at some point.  Regardless of how we do it, we are going to have to pay the piper for all these short sighted, so called "conservatives", who, at the end of the day, want to live in a great country while letting their children and grandchildren pay for it.
            Replacing the income tax with a high consumption tax is what they discuss at RedState, along with cutting social spending.
            What I did was choose an option on a newspaper game, a very small consumption tax to supplement the income tax because I like having a nice country and want to leave a better one to my children.
            That is still no reason to respond the way you did, which was just plain rude.  Chill out!

            Montesquieu and Locke are rolling in their graves right now...

            by Mannabass on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 09:43:37 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  RedState is over there. (0+ / 0-)
      •  Wow. (0+ / 0-)

        I'm stunned by your well thought out and reasoned argument.  You have such a great grasp of the issues and you contribute so much to the discussion.  With such incredible thought and impassioned rhetoric, I cannot understand how America hasn't solved all its problems.  
        I mean, seriously... in some quarters, they completely ignore what you say and just make pithy unrelated comments and name calling.
        I've volunteered on every single Democratic presidential campaign since Bill Clinton in 1992.  I've done work for many Democratic senators and congressional representatives, as well.  This was a simulation on a newspaper website and I don't appreciate your insult.  Obviously, balancing the budget would not be this simple or based solely on the choices offered by the NYTimes.  You can read my above comment, if you are curious how I arrived at my conclusions.
        Or you could debate the specific choices and demonstrate better ones I could have made to balance the budget on the NYTimes simulation.
        Or you can fuck off.  I don't really care.

        Montesquieu and Locke are rolling in their graves right now...

        by Mannabass on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 01:29:33 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  What's wrong with having some deficit? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fayea, shopkeeper

    You don't want it to go to zero!

    " A lot of money is tainted - taint yours and taint mine." Unknown author

    by libbie on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 09:58:59 AM PST

  •  I would like to cap the costs of Medicare (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Willa Rogers

    but not Medicare growth starting in 2013.

    There  will be a lot more boomers in Medicare after 2013, so cutting growth would mean they would not get good care.

    We need to cap the Medicare charges expecially for Prescriptions and Hospital charges.

    This year Medicare added a lot of expense by offering health checkup physicals.  It covers everything from ostoporosis to breast exams.  Maybe it will be cheaper in the long run because they will catch problems sooner, but I doubt it.

    I looked up the 60 percentile on the Social Security question and in 2005 it would be those earning less than $600 a week.

    I wish we had a place to type in suggestions on the poll.

  •  If nothing else, it's education on (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    emal, fhcec, New Deal democrat, theal8r

    what's really small and what's big.

    Tax cuts, medicare, er tax breaks: big.

    There should be more military cut options, though, which may illustrate another problem: there should be real DOD proposals to reduce.  Not like Rummy, who simply refused.

    Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!

    by Inland on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 10:21:00 AM PST

    •  Those matches for the goverment's (0+ / 0-)

      retirement plans TSPs are paid with taxes.

      If they cut back Medicare taxes then we would be taxed to pay for the war.

      When it comes down to it, most of the average republicans probably want about the same as we want.  It is the rich who are throwing wrenches in everything.

  •  It's easy to fix the deficit when (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    emal, relentless, neroden, theal8r

    a lot of factors are not provided in the math.  What I would also like to see along with each choice is the effect on the unemployment rate and the effects on measures of health and happiness.   One of the choices was to reduce federal employment.  How does that affect unemployment?  Another to curtail aid to states.  Again, unemployment?  Cap Medicare -->> how does that affect health and longevity?  

    It is simply not responsible not to consider these factors and only to look at the dollars.

    By the way, remember Ross Perot?  Pretty crazy, but he did say to run the govt like a business.  One cannot really make a business more profitable by only cutting costs.  One has to increase revenue.  Taxes is the revenue.  Tax revenue can be increased by either (or both) increasing tax rates/things taxed or by increasing the number of people working who pay tax.  Therefore the effect on unemployment is of paramount importance in considering any of the measures.  

    And the "cap" on Medicare - WTF does that really mean?  Who suffers?

    I was wise enough to never grow up while fooling most people into believing I had. - Margaret Mead

    by fayea on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 10:24:44 AM PST

  •  it's irritating how centrist the options are (8+ / 0-)

    no option to return tax rates to pre-reagan, no option to abolish nukes outright, no option to pull out completely from iraq and afghanistan, no option to seriously reduce or close most foreign military bases. it's all tinkering with the status quo, taking 1993 as the most extreme left possibility.

    although, as you point out, even in that false box it's easy enough to fix the deficit.

    surf putah, your friendly neighborhood central valley samizdat

    by wu ming on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 10:28:49 AM PST

  •  I didn't cap Social Security or (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Andrew C White, theal8r

    Medicare, I didn't raise the age limits, I didn't mess with malpractice, I cut out the loopholes on taxes and yes, I got rid of the mortgage and health care deductions and left the estate tax at 2001 levels. I reduced all across the board on the military and I left in place a lot.
    I reduced the deficit and I did it my first and only time around this morning.  If nothing else it allows all of us to cut, slash and burn those things we think are ruining America.

    Have fun, its only a game.

  •  Deficit Commission: Calls For Action (0+ / 0-)
    Action, not talk: Deficit panel pushes Dems, GOP
    http://www.google.com/...
  •  Solved it w/out touching farm subsidies, earmarks (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    quotemstr

    or medical benefits.

    Raise taxes as much it'll let you (including the national sales tax and carbon tax), cut military spending as much as it'll let you (except trade foreign aid cuts to avoid having to reduce noncombat compensation and benefits) and select reduce SS for rich people, and it'll say you've solved the deficit without touching anything else.

    Too bad low taxes and the "defense" budget are sacred cows, to whom everything else must be sacrificed. Austerity is coming whether you like it or not.

  •  76% tax increases, 24% spending cuts (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tennegirl

    The only spending cuts I found necessary were: farm subsidies and  all of the military expenditures (except for noncombat military compensation).

    $67 billion surplus! And this is assuming current tax revenue, right? If the economy bounces back, you would have a much, much greater surplus,Ii would imagine.

  •  Nice tool - very interesting but incomplete (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tardis10

    it doesn't list all possible options nor does it show whether it takes into account the residual effects of some of these options. Cutting jobs and raising taxes do have an effect on future taxable revenue. If this is factored into the stated savings then great but it's not clear. Plus the tax raising and benefit cutting options listed are only those currently proposed by members of our limited vision conventional wisdom setting crowd. Where is the option that shows the effects of creating a public option or single-payer health care system? I would gladly click options that tax and/or eliminate other health care options if those were included as options.

    All in all though a pretty cool tool. I solved the immediate problem by near double and exceeded the 2030 shortfall as well but would only have supported half of what was lumped in a couple of those options if that choice had been given.

    "Do what you can with what you have where you are." - Teddy Roosevelt

    by Andrew C White on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 11:29:37 AM PST

  •  I did it easily (0+ / 0-)

    with about 300 billion to spare. I made a point of not reading the diary first, but came up with generally the same choices as the diarist: going back to Clinton era tax levels, getting out of Iraq and Afghanistan - I cut most military expenses, but I think the only civilian expense I cut was farm subsidies, and I didn't touch health care or social security AT ALL.

    When civilizations clash, barbarism wins.

    by Allogenes on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 11:43:08 AM PST

  •  The obvious answer (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Subversive, fhcec, tardis10

    is to travel to 1979, find that welfare queen and stop her food stamps. Reagan doesn't get elected, and the nation is saved.

    "I was a big supporter of waterboarding" - Dick Cheney 2/14/10

    by Bob Love on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 11:56:10 AM PST

  •  perfection (0+ / 0-)

    Oh no its not perfect so it sucks, what on earth is ever perfect? except fake breasts... oh yeah there's that cancer thing... so much for perfection. I think the point of the NYT exercise is well illustrated. There are many ways to balance the budget that are not even up for consideration. The same old lets balance it on the backs of the poor, lets call separately and fully funded programs entitlements and take an axe to them. They are indeed entitlements... we are entitled to them because it is our money, we have paid into them all of our lives.

  •  I'm ok with this... (0+ / 0-)

    Eliminate earmarks
    Eliminate farm subsidies
    Cut pay of civilian federal workers by 5 percent
    Reduce military to pre-Iraq War size and further reduce troops in Asia and Europe
    Reduce Navy and Air Force fleets
    Cancel or delay some weapons programs
    Reduce the number of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan to 60,000 by 2015
    Cap Medicare growth starting in 2013
    Reduce nuclear arsenal and space spending
    Reduce military to pre-Iraq War size and further reduce troops in Asia and Europe
    Reduce Navy and Air Force fleets
    Cancel or delay some weapons programs
    Reduce the number of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan to 60,000 by 2015
    Cap Medicare growth starting in 2013
    Tighten eligibility for disability
    Return the estate tax to Clinton-era levels
    Return investment tax rates to Clinton-era levels
    Allow Bush tax cuts expiration for income above $250,000 a year
    Subject some incomes above $106,000 to payroll tax
    Millionaire's tax on income above $1 million
    Carbon tax
    Bank Tax

    Projected 2015 budget surplus:  $144 billion
    Project 2030 budget surplus: $181 billion

    We would be just a little bit closer to world peace if everyone would just grow some f-ing skin!

    by Subversive on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 12:23:55 PM PST

  •  I noticed that Kossacks are actually (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    New Deal democrat, theal8r, Eric0125

    taking this exercise seriously. Now, on the pile of cultural obsession and intellectual bankruptcy called FreeRepublic:

    To: worst-case scenario

    The problem with this scenario is it LIMITS what you can and cannot cut. Everything MUST be on the table.

    2 posted on Sunday, November 14, 2010 12:40:53 PM by MIchaelTArchangel (Obama makes me miss Jimmah Cahtah!)
    [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]
    To: worst-case scenario

    Lower tax rates, slash regulation and freeze everything except defense spending.

    3 posted on Sunday, November 14, 2010 12:42:14 PM by Mr Ramsbotham (Laws against sodomy are honored in the breech.)
    [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]
    To: worst-case scenario

    The very first thing that I would cut is the WH press room. If they want to chat, call someone up on a cell phone at their cost.

    4 posted on Sunday, November 14, 2010 12:42:50 PM by qwertypie
    [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]
    To: worst-case scenario

    Without looking, I’d bet that the savings from spending cuts are understated, and the revenues from tax increases are wildly inflated...

    Much the way CBO figures things.....

    5 posted on Sunday, November 14, 2010 12:44:19 PM by Uncle Ike (Rope is cheap, and there are lots of trees...)
    [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

    . . . and Daily Paul is just overflowing with magical thinking:

    Where's the option to: -
    Submitted by fatlibertarian on Sun, 11/14/2010 - 02:31.

    Where's the option to:

    - Suspend the income tax? - Let 25 and younger opt out of social security? - Abolish Minimum wage? - Abolish the Departments of energy, education, and more? - Bring our troops home from around THE WORLD?

    Budget slashed.

    . . . which aptly demonstrates why right-libertarians are just ideologically blinkered as V.I. Lenin.

    Every politician in America is sounding like that mayor in Jaws. -global citizen

    by James Kresnik on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 12:30:36 PM PST

    •  close a lot of loop holes (0+ / 0-)

      and use the money to pay down the debt and to increase investments (alternative energy, infrastructure, education, people laid off jobs, people needing new careers, earned income tax credit).

      Increase carbon tax over time... to stimulate new investments, ....

  •  CNN reported a poll (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shanikka

    on the "Your Money" show that showed supposedly more people cared about the deficit than creating jobs. I don't believe that, as all the other polls I've seen suggested the reverse. Here's one writer on the overhyping of deficit fears:

    http://www.frumforum.com/...

    It is sad that the Tea Party has cover to those who would give money the rest of us need to the very rich in the form of tax cuts.

    "We Don't Pay Taxes. Only The Little People Pay Taxes." -- Leona Helmsley

    by MaizeandBlue on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 12:35:04 PM PST

  •  I emliminated the deficit! (0+ / 0-)

    New improved bipartisanship! Now comes in a convenient suppository!!! -unbozo

    by Unbozo on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 12:43:20 PM PST

  •  I'm struggling with the last $175b in 2030 (0+ / 0-)

    What would happen if you capped Medicare growth to GDP+1%? It would put me over the top easily, but I hesitate to do it because the explanation of effects is basically non-existent on the NYT site. I don't want to cut something when the effects aren't explained to me.

    Would it conceivably cut benefits or coverage in the future?

  •  73/28 taxes to spending cuts for me (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lawrence, neroden

    I tried to think like a politician would and try to please/not offend as many people as possible as well as keep true to middle class and lower income people.  

    So mainly the cuts came from the military with cuts ok'd by the bipartisan panel, an earmark ban, ending the wars, and a 5% pay cut for federal workers.  

    On taxes, I basically went back to Clinton tax rates except for people making under $250,000.  Also, I made a bank tax.  Benefits towards rich Americans were targeted.  Because their tax rates been favored for so long, I think they should sacrifice for the good of the country.      

  •  Two things (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AaronInSanDiego

    It doesn't let you take the tax rates for the super-rich up as high as necessary to close the gap (Ike-era!!) and it doesn't have the one thing that will probably really get used: put it on the credit card again.

    I got 64% from taxes, 36% from spending cuts.

    If you could reason with religious people, there would be no religious people. Dr. House

    by Uosdwis on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 01:23:44 PM PST

  •  I liked how it illustrated (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AaronInSanDiego, Inland

    quite clearly what the problem is and why it appears to be an impossible task.  Those are some very politically tough choices.  With sacred cows on both sides.

    Teach, preach, reach!

    by theal8r on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 01:24:57 PM PST

  •  We could make poll diaries about this ! (0+ / 0-)

    It takes one poll diary for each section.
    And then six other poll diaries which ask for the percentage range of reduction for each section.

    Condition would be that people participate in each twelve poll under the condition that they all had eliminated the budget deficits completely by 2015.

    Who would get the permission to put 12 polls up through diaries?

    Can a FP writer put these polls up.

    I think it would be fun.

  •  Okay, I'm sold on a VAT, I guess. (0+ / 0-)

    I can see why the European gov love it: it's huge for revenue, nobody knows how much they are paying, and all the other solutions are opposed BECAUSE people CAN see how it affects them.

    Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!

    by Inland on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 01:53:09 PM PST

    •  Carbon tax is just as obscure (0+ / 0-)

      for most people, actually.  If we got it passed once it would stick for the same reasons as the VAT.

      Read pp. 1-7 of Krugman's _The Great Unraveling_ (available from Google Books). NOW.

      by neroden on Mon Nov 15, 2010 at 01:44:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Wow, great app (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hopalong

    I probably took a slightly different route compared to a lot of people here, and went with a 43/57 tax hikes/spending cuts formula.

    - Eliminated farm subsidies

    - Cut 250,000 government contractors

    - Reduce nuclear arsenal and space spending

    - Reduce Navy and Air Force fleets

    - Cancel or delay some weapons programs

    - Enact malpractice reform

    - Increase the Medicare eligibility age to 68

    - Cap Medicare growth starting in 2013

    - Raise Social Security eligibility/retirement age to 68

    - Reduce Social Security entitlements to those with high incomes

    - Tighten disability eligibility

    - Return the estate tax to Clinton-era levels

    - Obama proposal on investment taxes

    - Let Bush tax cuts expire for those making <$250,000</p> - Eliminate loopholes, reduce rates (Bowles/Simpson plan)

    - Reduce mortgage interest conversion by converting to credit

    - Carbon tax

    I'm still $3 billion short for 2015, but I got the 2030 deficit under control with billions to spare.

    GOP stands for Grand Old Problem.

    by LennyLiberal on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 01:59:34 PM PST

  •  Dennis Moore (0+ / 0-)

    will fix this!

  •  Problem Is (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Futuristic Dreamer

    The only way to balance the budget will hurt rich people, so ...  It will never happen.  They simply take too much out of the system and pay too little in.  Good luck to everyone.

    Government saved the markets and sacrified its people.

    by bink on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 02:00:32 PM PST

    •  We Can't Pull Out (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      neroden

      Of Iraq and Afghanistan, because these are part of some resource war strategy for the oligarchs.  We can't socialize health care, because business will lose money.  We can't raise taxes, because billionaires will have slightly less money.  Etc., etc., etc.

      There is no way to balance the budget without cutting into the revenue streams that our government grants big business and rich people, or puts a stopper on their absurd global resource domination plans.

      Government saved the markets and sacrified its people.

      by bink on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 02:07:42 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  We've been doing this for CA for a while now (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AaronInSanDiego, neroden

    Got group here called Next Ten that runs an annual interactive budget challenge for the state.

    If we can balance the budget here, we can balance a budget anywhere!

    "I went down yesterday to the Piraeus with Glaucon the son of Ariston..." -Socrates

    by polnorth on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 02:08:36 PM PST

  •  That was easy. (0+ / 0-)

    Next?

    Money is not speech. Corporations are not people.

    by Benintn on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 02:09:51 PM PST

  •  National Sales Tax is bad mojo (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Magnifico

    Sales Tax is a regressive tax. The burden falls heaviest on lower income earners because they spend a higher percentage of their paychecks (read: buy stuff) than do higher income earners.

    Additionally, many states (like mine) already have state-level sales taxes. A 5% national sales tax would just add 5% to my cost of living. If you want to eliminate state sales taxes, then I'd be OK with a national sales tax. Otherwise, no dice.

    It makes me wonder how many people claiming it was easy earlier in the thread actually thought about the choices they were making.

    Like the Medicare cap that saves $500b. A lot of people claiming it was easy chose the Medicare cap, but do they know what the repercussions doing so would be?

  •  Glad you posted this. (0+ / 0-)

    I saw it this morning in the print version and am looking forward to visiting the online version as well. I hope lots of people take the time to read it and figure out where they would make the changes. Then, they should call their congressmen and let them know what they should do!

  •  My choices: +64% taxes, -36% spending (0+ / 0-)

    Useful exercise, interesting diary topic.

    Slavery is the legal fiction that a person is property. Corporate personhood is the legal fiction that property is a person. -Jan Edwards

    by SoCalSal on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 02:38:13 PM PST

  •  NYT choices shd include public option. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ganymeade, fhcec, Magnifico, Willa Rogers

    Adding a public option with Medicare rates would save $110 billion over ten years and should be a choice included in the NYT choices.

    The fiscal commission's chair's mark recommends a robust public option be implemented if other health cost savings are not met in five years. Instead, the commission should recommend implementation of public option now.

    Slavery is the legal fiction that a person is property. Corporate personhood is the legal fiction that property is a person. -Jan Edwards

    by SoCalSal on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 02:51:24 PM PST

    •  MediCare cost explosion (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SoCalSal

      some of it is due to increased numbers receiving, but some appears to be due to waste fraud and abuse.

      I'd like to know specifics about those high costs and what could be done to curb them without hurting beneficiaries.

  •  Solved mainly w/ progressive tax & mil cuts (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ganymeade, neroden

    My solution

    No cuts to Social Security or Medicare, (though there could be major cost savings in the health sector as a whole by converting to single payer)

    Major cuts in military spending, but mainly recovering some of the wealth redistributed upward over the last 3 decades.
    In the immortal words of Willie Sutton, "That's where the money is."

    The only nonmilitary items I cut are farm subsidies and government contractors.

    The Times did not provide the important options of a Tobin tax on financial transactions, which could raise hundreds of billions while reining in speculation, and raising the tax on large estates beyond the Clinton level.

    There's no such thing as a free market!

    by Albanius on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 02:51:29 PM PST

    •  Another big ticket item not offered by NYT (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      shanikka, ganymeade, neroden, Willa Rogers

      A base closing commission for the many foreign military bases left over from the Cold War.  The previous Base  Realignment and Closure commissions only cut/consolidated US domestic bases.

      There's no such thing as a free market!

      by Albanius on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 03:01:52 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  1 TRILLION dollars per year military spending (0+ / 0-)

      more than the total of the whole rest of the world.... ten times the next largest national military budget....

      Yeah, there's a buttload more which could be cut there beyond the options given by the NYT.

      Tobin tax is a great idea too, not just for the revenue, but to kill high-frequency trading and drive the computerized speculators out of the market, so it isn't as much of a mugs game as it is now.

      Read pp. 1-7 of Krugman's _The Great Unraveling_ (available from Google Books). NOW.

      by neroden on Mon Nov 15, 2010 at 01:46:17 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  thanks - this is great (0+ / 0-)

    stop the wars and going back to Clinton' taxes would solve all our problems.

  •  Among the choices provided, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tennegirl

    here is what I came up with.  It is a SURPLUS.

    But here is what I would propose in real life:

    Cap Military Spending at $500 billion dollars per year from FY 2010, and in the future, adjust for inflation.

    Cut all foreign aid entirely for military spending, BAN all foreign aid for weapons sales and ban tax subsidies for weapons capable items.  In any event, cap foreign aid at half current levels.

    Eliminate the income cap on Social Security.

    Raise the top individual income bracket to 70%

    Eliminate farm subsidies for non-alternative energy production.  Retain them for farms producing crops sold for alternative energy.

    Eliminate ALL estate tax cuts.

    Increase the top corporate income tax on profits to 60%.

    Eliminate deferred tax for outsourcing and apply a 10% tax surcharge on outsourced labor.

    Eliminate all previous tax cuts for anyone making over $50,000 per year for singles, $75,000 for couples, in the future, indexed for inflation.

    Bank tax, carbon tax.

    Speculation tax:  Apply a 1% surcharge on stock trades over 1,000 shares.

    Medicare cap:  Cap increased Medicare spending at 3% over GDP, not 1%.

    Eliminate ALL U.S. troops based in foreign lands, close ALL foreign U.S. military bases, except those in the U.S. strategic interest and fully paid for by the host country or countries.

    Repeal/eliminate NAFTA, CAFTA and all free trade agreements.

    New tax breaks for hiring domestic workers, new tax breaks for U.S. based manufacturing and resource production.

    "When in doubt, be ruthless" - Ferengi saying (-6.62, -6.26)

    by AndyS In Colorado on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 02:56:29 PM PST

  •  It would be better if there were more options (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ganymeade, Magnifico

    it won't let me withdraw ALL troops from Iraq and Afghanistan and cut the defense budget in half.
    It won't let me entirely remove the payroll cap.
    But yeah, balancing is very possible. We just have to do it

    That quote about GDP by Robert Kennedy

    by erichiro on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 02:57:53 PM PST

  •  Buggy interactive software (0+ / 0-)

    No surprise here, of course. The NY Times is more interested in flash than content and accuracy these days.

    Anyone able to make the 2015 shortfall under $415B?

    And what is the presumption about the growth in the economy that this little piece of journalistic theater assumes?

    "Americans, while occasionally willing to be serfs, have always been obstinate about being peasantry."

    by Glinda on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 03:11:07 PM PST

    •  I'm sure the growth of the economy is (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      neroden

      very optimistic like the government's is.

      I don't belong to an organized party, I'm a democrat.

      by thestructureguy on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 06:15:35 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I made the shortfall 1 million dollars. (0+ / 0-)

      75% tax increases.  Apart from the carbon tax, none of them were on the poor.  Millionaires tax, bank tax, restore Clinton-era tax rates on everything else.

      25% spending cuts.  ALL military.  And the NYT lowballed the options for military cuts, this still leaves the military spending far larger than it needs to be.

      Read pp. 1-7 of Krugman's _The Great Unraveling_ (available from Google Books). NOW.

      by neroden on Mon Nov 15, 2010 at 01:47:55 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  It stopped deducting once I got to $415B (0+ / 0-)

        And I checked all the tax boxes.  It may be that there is a glitch in the interactive with Firefox, I don't know.  The 2030 kept going down, and went lower than $415B but the 2015 was stuck at that figure.

        Oh well.

        "Americans, while occasionally willing to be serfs, have always been obstinate about being peasantry."

        by Glinda on Mon Nov 15, 2010 at 04:38:33 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  LOL! I'm an idiot and read the boxes wrong (0+ / 0-)

          I actually reduced the 2015 deficit to zero and had a likely surplus.  The question remains as to what assumption was made about economic growth heading toward 2030.

          "Americans, while occasionally willing to be serfs, have always been obstinate about being peasantry."

          by Glinda on Mon Nov 15, 2010 at 08:54:29 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  What's clear is that if (4+ / 0-)

    tax increases and rollbacks of Bush-era tax cuts, and significant cuts in military spending, are both on the table, it is achievable without touching Medicare or Social Security.  If we had a health care system that was less expensive overall, that would provide even more options.

    Intelligence is not something you should avoid - Camper Van Beethoven

    by AaronInSanDiego on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 03:27:29 PM PST

  •  This has to be forwarded to everyone (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ganymeade

    Especially the teabaggers among us... Let them try this out and see if their "ideas" really do anything.

  •  awesome tool! thanks for the link! (0+ / 0-)

    I balanced the budget w/o raising the retirement age, cutting vet benefits, state aid, medical care or by diminishing social security or slashing the fed workforce or punishing doctors.   I am going to link it to every supporter of the cat food commission and the grim freepers agenda.  Cut out war not people and our safety net!  I knew they are lying!

    Fool me once shame on you; fool me twice won't get fooled again. George Bush

    by ganymeade on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 03:35:03 PM PST

  •  It won't let me check anything in (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ganymeade

    the "tax" section.  It works fine for military, retirement, health care, and gov't.  If the tool would work for me, I'd be interested to tweak things.

    Another thing that concerns me about the choices is that Social Security is not part of the general fund - at least, it's not supposed to be.  It is funded by a separate tax which goes into the SS trust.  Shouldn't it be budget-neutral?  

    -7.62, -7.28 "Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly." -Langston Hughes

    by luckylizard on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 03:35:59 PM PST

  •  I solved the deficit! [patting back] n/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shanikka

    It's not just a zip code, it's an attitude.

    by sboucher on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 03:47:30 PM PST

  •  The Elephants (no pun) in the Room... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ganymeade, Willa Rogers, tennegirl

    What is the cost of Lifetime Pensions and Primo Health Coverage for members of Congress?

    How much revenue could be generated by allowing all US Citizens (below 65 years old) to buy Full Medicare Coverage to include Dental and Optimology at a rate of Cost+20%? The extra 15% "profit" would go into Defecit Reduction (Medicare shortfalls). Employers that bought this coverage for their employees would be allowed another 15% "Patriot Tax Reduction" on GROSS REVENUE for doing their part to balance the nation's books. Combine this with the 100% tax break for Small business that invests in equipment and new hires and you have a recipe for job growth, better quality of life, and the ignorant american public still has the "choice" to by standard medical ripoff coverage from Blue Cross etc.

    What about a 40% "Truth in Media" Tax on all Media Ad Buys for Political Campaigns/3rd Party Advocacy Groups to be paid by the media conglomerates that profit by filling our airwaves with lies? Media Companies that allow the "fairness" of allowing the other Candidates "Equal Rebuttal Time" would be exempt from this tax.

    Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth. ..John F. Kennedy

    by irishamerican on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 03:48:44 PM PST

  •  ridiculously easy for any rational person (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    neroden

    reduce defense spending and return taxes for the rich to pre-bush levels.

  •  Hm (0+ / 0-)

    the game did remind me to check and verify that Perotcharts still exists.

    Perotcharts was a bit big on the whole "Magic Solution to Medicare means it'll rain candy" stuff too.

    Of course, the problem with medicare is that even if it's going to become insolvent soon, there's not a lot of people running for office able to advocate honest debates on how to keep it running. Hence campaigns like Roy Blunt trying to claim that the Democrats were cutting medicare, when the medicare changes were to keep it viable in the future.

    Another catch with Perotcharts is that the charts are all from 2008, so I'm not betting on a budget surplus in 2012 by letting the tax cuts expire.

    The Republican Party isn't a party of small government, it's a party of a government for the few. @bhindepmo

    by RBH on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 04:44:22 PM PST

  •  Anonymous polling (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mariken

    I know this would never happen. But I would LOVE to see all Senators and Reps go through a simple survey like this NYTimes app and 'virtually' balance the budget. Then publish the results for everyone to see and debate. But do it TOTALLY anonymously so they don't have to play the political game.

    You have to wonder if there are any items on this list that would result in nearly unanimous consensus when you remove the politics from the equation.

    I know, I know. It'll never happen. But one can dream of the day we have reasonable discussion right?

  •  Great tool; a progressive solution is apparent (0+ / 0-)

    I was able to "solve the deficit" by saying yes to all the military reductions and yes to all progressive taxation.

    It doesn't have to be that hard, given progressive values and political courage (I know that's asking a lot...)

    I might that I would favor even much more progressive taxation on the rich than the NYT offers as choices.

    "To initiate a war of aggression...is the supreme international crime" - Nuremberg prosecutor Robert Jackson, 1946

    by grassroot on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 05:49:17 PM PST

  •  Nice dream list but very little of (0+ / 0-)

    it would or could happen.  But it sure was easy to sit here and balance it.  

    I don't belong to an organized party, I'm a democrat.

    by thestructureguy on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 06:14:21 PM PST

  •  I tried EVERY Republican idea (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    neroden

    and I couldn't fix the deficit! No cuts to military, raise social security and medicare age, No raising of taxes, and laying off government workers (Basically I went Grover Norquist on this sonofabitch) and the deficit doesn't shrink as much as progressive ideas.

    Live without dead time-Anoymynous Paris graffiti from 1968

    by greenpunx on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 10:27:10 PM PST

    •  Good point. Republicans can't cut deficits. (0+ / 0-)

      Whereas progressives have about a dozen ways to do it.

      Now let's try to elect some progressives....

      Read pp. 1-7 of Krugman's _The Great Unraveling_ (available from Google Books). NOW.

      by neroden on Mon Nov 15, 2010 at 01:42:35 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  great post. data viz is critical!! NM (0+ / 0-)
  •  That was really really easy. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    neroden

    Why so much debate about this? I think if it was presented in terms like this to the american people you could actually get this issue solved and finished.

    I would like to see one of these for the national debt. Not just the deficit.

    We lose if we choose to forget; the lives of men, and money spent.

    by DeanDemocrat on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 11:29:04 PM PST

  •  Here's My Plan (0+ / 0-)

    The plan

    And, I'd add 50% to the employer side of payroll taxes for OASI and HI, so that it would fund a great deal more of Social Security and Medicare out of the productivity increase that's gone to employers and been stolen from workers over the past several decades.

    Note that this would go a long way toward my 5X plan for holding the military budget to the combined totals of the next five largest military budgets in the world.

    But that's only the fiscal part of it. We still need an international minimum wage to stop the flow of jobs overseas. Until we stop losing wealth-producing jobs to other countries, we still won't have the raw economic power to recover.

  •  Notice no Tariffs on the Table (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    neroden

    A simple set of fair trade tariffs would probably go a long way toward both fixing the hole in our budget deficit and fixing our economy, too. Simple things, like: Are your labor and environmental laws as strong as ours? No? Tariff. Do you have protectionist tariffs and import controls? Tariff. Do you manipulate your currency to artificially maintain the status quo trading relationship? Tariff.

    Raise revenue and encourage the return of manufacturing and etc to our shores. What's better is that it will establish a precedent whereby we'll be encouraged to self impose limits on carbon emissions or face tariffs of a similar sort. :)

    The point of these tariffs isn't protectionism, though that is a benefit, but encouraging a move to trade on equal footing.

    I would also fully expect tariffs on our agricultural products because of our subsidizing them. Again, I don't have a problem with this because agricultural subsidies should be scaled back to only apply to small family farmers and not big agribusiness.

  •  I didn't touch medical costs (0+ / 0-)

    The military cuts, plus restoring taxes on the rich, gets you an enormous surplus.

    And the NYT was incredibly stingy in offering military cut options.  I've run through more detailed versions of the budget, there's masses more wasteful and pointless spending on military equipment for refighting the Cold War or exerting "global dominance".  If you rightsize the military to a defensive position, you can cut hundreds of billions more.

    The US now spends 10 times more on its military than the next larger military budget.  We could cut our military budget by $700 billion easily.

    Read pp. 1-7 of Krugman's _The Great Unraveling_ (available from Google Books). NOW.

    by neroden on Mon Nov 15, 2010 at 01:11:29 AM PST

  •  This game is ridiculous, as (0+ / 0-)

    the increases in taxes are tiny, even if one were to click all of them.

    The top tax bracket under Nixon was 70%, under Eisenhower, it was over 90%.

    Tax speculation, not labor.

    Speculation does not make jobs, it causes bedlam and discord. Speculation is a threat to national security and sustainability, it forces capital into places it should not go. Rather than reward it, the brakes need to be put on it.

    Restore fiscal conservatism by putting the brakes on rampant speculation by increasing taxation.

    Shift the tax burden away from the working classes, inject money into the hands of the working classes, and the economy will bounce back.

    If the TARP bailout had been given to taxpayers, they would have paid their bills and the economy would be booming with new jobs now.

    The personal exemption for Federal taxes should be doubled, from roughly $3500 a year to $7000 a year.

    Long term cap gains should be taxed based upon income qualified tax brackets, not a fixed 15% or 20%.

    Short term cap gains should be subjected to a 25% penalty. For every $1M in income, there should a be an additional 1% surtax.

    Fixing the US and world economy is easy. Tax speculation, not labor.

    by shpilk on Mon Nov 15, 2010 at 04:54:45 AM PST

  •  Man (0+ / 0-)

    I solved the deficit in 3 minutes.  Can I have a cookie now? ;)

    (My plan was to:

    Eliminate earmarks
    Eliminate farm subsidies
    Cut government contractors
    Troop reductions (pre-Iraq size, cut Asia and Europe)
    Cancel or delay weapons programs
    Reduce troops in Iraq and Afghanistan to 30,000
    Return the estate tax to pre-Clinton level
    Return capital gains taxes to pre-Clinton levels
    Kill the Bush tax cut over $250K
    Increase the payroll tax over $106,500 in income
    Millionaire's tax
    Tax simplification with higher rates
    National sales tax
    Carbon tax
    Bank tax

    If you don't stand for something, you will go for anything. Visit Maat's Feather

    by shanikka on Mon Nov 15, 2010 at 04:56:14 AM PST

  •  Reccomend your Diary and Commend the NYT (0+ / 0-)

    This is a really important piece in my view and well deserves the attention you have brought to it.  It is an extraordinary piece of journalism -- truly new media -- in which each person gets to sort through the details of the case and see what the outcome would be.  No shrill talking heads, no apoplectic glenn beck, just decision making.  Assuming (ahem ...) that the consequences of the choices are based on good analysis and fact finding (which is the journalism part of it) this graphic takes a really tough subject and opens it up to everyone who likes a "choose your own adventure" style game.  Really neat trick for the old Grey Lady.

    Dirigiste vs Free Mkt -6.25/ Libertarian vs Authoritarian -4.72

    by bob in ny on Mon Nov 15, 2010 at 04:58:36 AM PST

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