How Would YOU Balance the U.S. Budget?

BY Paul Solman  November 15, 2010 at 10:25 AM EDT

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.