No, You Stabilize the Debt!

It can be easy to sit back and blame our politicians for their handling of the national debt, tax policy, or spending priorities. But if given the opportunity, could we do any better?

The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget is giving us the chance. They've updated and relaunched their Exercise in Hard Choices budget simulator and challenged you to make the budgeting choices that would stabilize the U.S. debt at 60 percent of GDP by 2021. (Currently, CRFB says that under reasonable assumptions, the public debt is projected to grow to 91 percent of GDP by 2025)

Here at Delve, we gave it a shot and didn't quite make it to 60 percent (actually, we didn't come close). It's a tough exercise and almost makes you feel for the lawmakers who have to grapple with this every day.

But there's another lesson in this exercise, which the Wall Street Journal picks up on today: When it comes to hard choices, people may not cling to party lines as much as our leaders and the media think they do.

CRFB first launched this simulator about two years ago and since then a quarter of a million people have visited the site. Their responses give a glimpse of the trade-offs people might be willing to make -- and they are less ideologically bound than might be expected.

CRFB's analysis of 8,000 people who have used the simulator and provided details about themselves since October 2010 shows that 71 percent of Democrats supported raising the retirement age, and 82 percent of Republicans supported letting at least some tax cuts expire. Of course, this is a self-selected group and not a random sample, but it is worth noting that solutions offered by interested citizens fall somewhere between the hard-line rhetoric of the GOP and Democratic fiscal platforms.