At the University of Maryland-College Park, students of public policy, journalism, and business gathered in groups at the Public Policy School to play Budget Hero and see how policies favoring their political priorities – such as efficient government, energy independence, or national security – would affect the federal budget.
Some went straight for the scalpel, ignoring politics in favor of dramatically reducing government spending. “We really just tried to make a lot of cuts…we wanted to cut what we felt [were] unnecessary programs and we didn’t really look into the political implications of all this,” said one student. Speaking on behalf of his group, he acknowledged, however, “We are probably all going to get voted out of office next term.”
Other groups delved into the political debates behind the spending policies, with one group allotting every member a veto to exercise in order to simulate the impact of special interest groups on budget appropriations. “It really influenced the [policy] cards we chose.”
Whether they ignored politics or not, however, no group of students was able to use current policies to push the year the federal budget goes bust later than 2040.