Think you can fix the budget? Go ahead.

The New York Times offers a new tool for readers: see if you can reduce (let alone eliminate) the budget deficit.

By , Guest blogger

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    It's hard enough to balance a household budget, but if you're ready to tackle the American economy, the New York Times has set up a tool for you.
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Over at the New York Times, David Leonhardt, Bill Marsh, Shan Carter, Matthew Ericson, and Kevin Quealy have prepared a great online tool for analyzing federal budget options.

Your charge, if you choose to accept it, is to assemble a combination of spending cuts and tax increases that will adequately reduce the budget deficit balance the budget in 2030. To do so, you will need to find $1.355 trillion in budget adjustments.

I particularly like their decision to list cutting foreign aid in half ($17 billion) and eliminating earmarks ($14 billion) as the first two items. These are popular options in many circles, but they are small potatoes when it comes to the overall budget. Choose both options and you still have $1.324 billion to go.

Recommended: 6 ways to avoid the 'fiscal cliff'

Good luck.

* As Vivian Darkbloom notes in the first comment, I originally misread the goal for this exercise. The graphic refers to closing the budget gap, which I mistook as budget balance. David Leonhardt’s accompanying blog post makes clear that the goal is essentially getting down to a sustainable deficit level, which is an easier target.

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