Tool$ Tuesday: You Cut the Deficit

BY Paul Solman  February 22, 2011 at 3:39 PM EST

Making Sense

As the President and Congress wrestle over the particulars of a trimmed-down federal budget, the non-partisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, funded by longtime budget nudge Pete Peterson, offers this tool for lowering the debt load — all by yourself.

We ran a similar exercise here a while ago, but it turned out it had at least one mistake. We haven’t noticed any obvious errors in this tool but please let us know if you find any. Meanwhile, it certainly is easy to use. And I, at least, found that checking or not checking its various boxes forced me to order my priorities. Uncomfortably.

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Tool$ Tuesday is a recurring feature on Making Sen$e where we highlight online calculators and tools that Paul Solman or others on the Making Sen$e team have actually used. The primary purpose is to present tools we have found helpful in understanding and even making economic decisions for ourselves. Sometimes, the purpose is simply to visualize data or a complex issue.

Previous Tool$:

- Currency Conversion, an enormously handy tool for converting dollar figures from the past to the present — and pounds too.

- What’s Your Vehicle’s Carbon ‘Tire-Print’?, a set of tools that allow you to check the carbon costs of your vehicle.

- The extension of the Bush tax cuts, allows you to visualize the consequences of extending the Bush cuts or NOT extending them – for seven different income groups, each represented by a different bar of color.

- Ballpark Estimate and E$Planner, two retirement planning tools: the former from the Employee Benefit Research Institute, the latter from Boston University economist Larry Kotlikoff.

- Bush Tax Cuts, a look at how the tax cuts might be implemented and what it means for you, from the Tax Policy Center.

- The Great Tax Cut Debate, from Business Week magazine, does a fine job of itemizing the elements of the Bush Tax Cuts and who supports what.

Two appeals to you who read this page. First, let us know which you find useful. Second, if you’ve found others you like that aren’t included on this list, let me know.

This entry is cross-posted on the Making Sen$e page, where correspondent Paul Solman answers your economic and business questions _Follow Paul on Twitter._