Thursday, May 20, 2010

Fiscal You

I am shocked, shocked!, to have to confess that I am not a "fiscal conservative" or "budget hawk" or whatever else they call these much-discussed chimeras, if this web-based simulation is to be believed.

For reasons I found too dull to investigate thoroughly, the simulation's designers set a target of 60% for the USA's debt as a percentage of GDP, but I could only take it down to 66% with my first try.

Not one to let a web-based simulation keep me from hitting a seemingly arbitrary target without a slightly less half-assed second try, I went back, made a few adjustments, et voila!

As such thingies go, this one is seemingly serious, detailed, and complete, though it comes with the usual caveats: some desirable choices are not present, some are not well explained. For example, we may either reduce farm subsidies by $80 billion or leave them unchanged, but it's not clear how that figure relates to total spending on farm subsidies, and moreover, I would like to radically decrease some (I'm looking at you, industrialized corn) while increasing others. It does not permit reducing military spending to the degree I would prefer, and its options for changes to tax law are limited.

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