In the fall of 2007, when the U.S. economy first seemed in peril, I began answering reader queries here on the Business Desk. I still do so, but this page has expanded to include posts from eminent economists, "far-flung correspondents," and a variety of voices that have intriguing and/or useful things to say about economics, broadly defined. Please feel encouraged to respond to any and all of them.
The Sunday Times featured an exercise that it might make sense for all Americans to try, and certainly members of Congress pressing to balance the budget- Budget Puzzle: You Fix the Budget.
And if you prefer to get out your pencil for these types of things, the Times has a printable PDF version of the Puzzle as well.
Quite apart from the debate over fiscal policy in a time of economic indolence - do deficits stimulate the economy or destroy confidence? - there is the simple question of, how? What expenses does government cut and/or what revenues does it raise?
There are various software tools on the web to illustrate the choices, but the Times has done a more exhaustive job than most.
By way of comparison, here are the leaked "starting point" proposals from the bi-partisan heads of the President's National Commission of Fiscal Responsibility and Reform
An admission: the Commission's proposal to eliminate the Corporation for Public Broadcasting isn't an option in the New York Times exercise. That's because the total amount is $420 million and the Times included only amounts of $5 billion or more.