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Rethinking the Federal Budget: Build Your Own Deficit Reduction Plan

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Just over a month ago, The Hamilton Project released a menu of options for achieving responsible deficit reduction while promoting broader economic benefits in a new report, 15 Ways to Rethink the Federal Budget. Through a new interactive feature on The Hamilton Project’s website, you can build your own deficit reduction plan by choosing different combinations of these proposals and see how this package could affect the ten-year budget picture.

Click here to try your hand at rethinking the federal budget »

The proposals address topics ranging from immigration to transportation to tax deductions and were written by leading budget and tax experts from a variety of backgrounds, including academia, the private sector, and a range of NGOs such as the American Enterprise Institute, the Brookings Institution, and Pew Charitable Trusts. Each expert was asked to share his or her proposal for reducing spending or raising revenue in a way that also promotes broad-based economic growth. The individual proposals offer discrete, innovative ideas for achieving budgetary savings and broader economic benefits. However when viewed in combination, they could contribute meaningful deficit reduction and help the country confront its most pressing economic challenges. Of course, a balanced approach to deficit reduction might require other changes but a package of these proposals can serve as a starting point for illustrating what is possible.

The new interactive feature allows you to see the potential budgetary effects of implementing these proposals—either individually or several at a time. Additionally, you can see the total deficit reduction produced by the proposals you select and the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA) and the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2010 (ATRA). The feature also provides a breakdown of what fraction of the deficit reduction comes through increased revenues, decreased spending, and lower interest payments.

It is important to bear in mind that no fiscal policy occurs in a vacuum. While the feature displays the ten-year deficit reduction and projected debt-to-GDP ratio in 2023 given your selection of proposals, these calculations are estimates that do not take into account budgetary interactions or macroeconomic effects that some of the proposals may have.

Michael Greenstone

 is the director of The Hamilton Project and 

Adam Looney

is its policy director. For more about the Project, visit


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