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6 Questions to Ask About the Federal Budget
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By ScottBittle on January 13th, 2010
One of the biggest problems in getting Americans engaged on the nation's fiscal challenges is that the problem is so hard for most people to get their arms around. The numbers are so huge, the issues so arcane and the problems so daunting that people may get angry about it, but have no idea how to grab onto it.
That's what makes the approach of the Committee on the Fiscal Future of the United States interesting. Their Choosing the Nation's Fiscal Future report, released today by the National Research Council and the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA), is about how to control our national debt, already past $12 trillion and threatening to rise to staggering (and dangerous) proportions. Public Agenda is part of the Choosing Our Fiscal Future project with NAPA, working to build a network of citizens who'll get involved in the discussion and work on solutions.
The nonpartisan committee laid out a goal for a sustainable debt level (keeping it to 60 percent of gross domestic product), four alternative paths for reaching the goal, and six basic questions to ask about any federal budget. The committee argues that if the answers to these questions are "yes," we're at least making progress.
Here are the questions, taken directly from the report. Consider whether the federal budget meets them now – and more importantly, keep them in mind as new budgets are proposed.
This gives the public something they haven't had before: a set of standards for a "good" budget, or at least as good as it can be given the tremendous fiscal challenges we face. If we give the public more tools to measure the problem, and grapple with real solutions, we can get ahead of this challenge – while there's still time.
To find out more, and to become part of the citizen network working on this issue, visit the Choosing Our Fiscal Future web site, become a Facebook fan, or follow us on Twitter @FiscalFuture.
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»A new report finds the main problem in getting the public to deal with our fiscal problems isn't opposition to tax increases or spending cuts -- it's their lack of trust in the government to spend their money wisely.