Current Weather
The Spy FM

College budget heroes: ‘You can cut my benefits’ to help country

Filed by KOSU News in Public Insight Network.
September 22, 2012

Groups of students play the new Budget Hero Election Edition during a relaunch event Wednesday at the University of Maryland School of Public Policy.

Groups of students play the new Budget Hero Election Edition during a relaunch event Wednesday at the University of Maryland School of Public Policy. Desireé Luckey, seen at right in a red sweater, is in a dual-degree program for law and public policy. Her group abandoned plans to make college more affordable to help the federal budget’s long-term outlook. (Photo by Dave Gustafson | APM/Patchwork Nation)

COLLEGE PARK, MD. — With Budget Hero’s relaunch this week, some University of Maryland students were among the first to play the online game’s new Election Edition in hopes of putting federal spending on a more sustainable path, even if it meant serious personal sacrifices.

Budget Hero is an up-to-date simulation of budget choices currently facing Congress. Desireé Luckey said the students she played it with this week wanted to select the option to make college more affordable by increasing funding for community college and Pell grants for needy students — a policy change that would cost $58 billion in additional federal spending over 10 years.

But Luckey, who is taking out loans herself to pay for a dual-degree program in law and public policy, said her group ultimately decided against that spending.

After students played the game, School of Public Policy Dean Donald Kettl asked what messages they would send to Congress. “Think about your place in history, not just the November election,” one student replied. “Disagreement should be the beginning of the conversation, not the end of it,” another said.

The students’ tough decisions on which federal programs and taxes to keep or cut managed to delay the projected budget bust in 2033 by anywhere from three to seven years.

The University of Maryland’s independent student newspaper, The Diamondback, reported more on students’ choices:

“The groups proposed raising the retirement age, which Kettl said would cut the benefits of those very students when they reach retirement age.

“‘That, I think, is a pretty powerful message,’ Kettl said. ‘Every group stood up and said, “You can cut my benefits in the future in exchange for the ability to be able put the country back into a sound fiscal situation.”’

 …

 “’As it stands now, it’s our generation that’s going to be stuck with all the debt and all the fiscal woes of the country,’ said Zach Cohen, a senior government and politics major. ‘While politicians have paid relatively good lip service about fixing the debt and bringing Social Security and Medicaid to sustainable levels, we haven’t really seen that in action.’

“‘I think we need to have a frank discussion with the American people about what will happen if this budget goes bust,’ said J Charles Mintzmyer, a master’s student in public policy. ‘Maybe in 2035 we won’t have a military; maybe in 2035 we won’t have social security.’”

Washington Post op-ed columnist Dana Milbank wrote this week that Budget Hero will “leave you squawking mad about the ruinous consequences of politicians’ failure to reach a debt agreement.” He went on:

“The game, which the Wilson Center’s Jane Harman recommends to children as young as 8, shows — in a way that no CBO or OMB report can — just how childish lawmakers are being. Its beeps and clicks, cartoon altimeters and ‘budget bust’ clock illustrate the futility of trying to solve the problem without tax increases, or without major cuts to Medicare. It also shows how quickly the options are diminishing; in the 2008 edition, players had no trouble extending the bust clock to 2050.”

>> If you were in charge of the federal budget, what programs and taxes would you keep? Which would you cut? Give the new Budget Hero: Election Edition a try.

Powered by WPeMatico

Leave a Reply

5AM to 9AM Morning Edition

Morning Edition

For more than two decades, NPR's Morning Edition has prepared listeners for the day ahead with two hours of up-to-the-minute news, background analysis, commentary, and coverage of arts and sports.

Listen Live Now!

9AM to 10AM The Takeaway

The Takeaway

A fresh alternative in morning news, "The Takeaway" provides a breadth and depth of world, national and regional news coverage that is unprecedented in public media.

View the program guide!

10AM to 11PM On Point

On Point

On Point unites distinct and provocative voices with passionate discussion as it confronts the stories that are at the center of what is important in the world today. Leaving no perspective unchallenged, On Point digs past the surface and into the core of a subject, exposing each of its real world implications.

View the program guide!

Upcoming Events in your area (Submit your event today!)

Streaming audio and podcasts

Stream KOSU on your smartphone

Phone Streaming

SmartPhone listening options on this page are intended for many iPhones, Blackberries, etc. with low-cost software applications available to listen to our full-time web streams, both News on KOSU-1 and Classical on KOSU-2.

Learn more about our complete range of streaming services

We're perfecting the patient experience - Stillwater Medical Center