EconomistMom.com
…because I’m an economist and a mom–that’s why!

EconomistMom.com

Are You a Brilliant Budgeteer or a Deficit Dunce?

June 11th, 2010 . by economistmom

wonk_propeller_hatju011

CNN-Money’s Jeanne Sahadi developed this fun little quiz that will test your knowledge about the federal budget while perhaps teaching you something along the way.  I think it’s a great way to get people to open up a CBO report!  ;)

6 Responses to “Are You a Brilliant Budgeteer or a Deficit Dunce?”

  1. comment number 1 by: SteveinCH

    Nice quiz but the Federal government has not spent (on average) 21% of GDP. There’s some pretty nasty editing of the years under consideration that is not noted in the question to get to that answer. That might be true post WWII but certainly not since the Founding.

  2. comment number 2 by: economistmom

    Steve: Yep, good point. That’s the average over the past 40 years I think.

  3. comment number 3 by: AMTbuff

    The tax expenditure question is tendentious because nobody agrees on which of the CBO’s laundry list of items would not be legitimate to tax. Imputed rental value of owner-occupied housing is a big one. I don’t think the American people would ever accept taxing that as if it were cash income.

  4. comment number 4 by: B Davis

    I think it’s a great way to get people to open up a CBO report!

    Good test (except for incomplete spending question mentioned above). However, they need to put in some debouncer logic. On the second question, I accidentally found that clicking the Next key twice after a good answer will award you with two points. Hence, despite missing question 8 on tax breaks, I was able to score 16 of 10 points! Once you get ahead, it’s good to just click once though. If you enter multiple clicks in the wrong manner, something goes wrong and you’ll end up with a score of NaN of 10.

  5. comment number 5 by: SteveinCH

    I don’t think so Diane. The average over the last 30 years (79 to 09) is just about 21 percent. Including 69 to 79 would drop that average. Now maybe it comes out at 20.6% but you’d think being precise would be a nice thing.

    Also agree with AMT’s point but to me that’s a larger issue. To measure tax expenditures, you have to assume the existence of a tax code without tax expenditures. Such a tax code has really never existed so it doesn’t make a lot of sense. I could, for example, equally calculate as a “tax expenditure”, the fact that the tax rate is not a flat 35% on all income and call the resulting discounts (which would dwarf the $1 trillion number) a tax expenditure since it is a tax expenditure in the same way that the mortgage interest deduction is.

  6. comment number 6 by: B Davis

    Steve: Yep, good point. That’s the average over the past 40 years I think.

    I don’t think so Diane. The average over the last 30 years (79 to 09) is just about 21 percent. Including 69 to 79 would drop that average. Now maybe it comes out at 20.6% but you’d think being precise would be a nice thing.

    Why not give it to two decimal places then? In fact, the answers given in the quiz were all rounded to zero decimal places (18, 21, 28, and 19% of GDP). At this link, I’ve added a column showing the average outlays through 2009 on the far right. As you can see, 21 is the correct figure for the starting years of 1965 through 1986 if rounded to zero decimal places. In addition, the average over the last 40 years (1970 through 2009) is 20.71% of GDP (not 20.6). Hence, Diane is correct.