As we head into the general election period, American Public Media, the public radio entity best known for producing A Prairie Home Companion and Marketplace, has launched an instructive and fun online game titled Budget Hero. The game allows you to set the U.S. budget by cutting or raising taxes, and increasing or decreasing spending. You want universal healthcare? Add it to the budget. Increased funding for Social Security? Go for it. Bring the troops home from Iraq? Just do it. Obviously, all such decisions will impact your budget. In this sense, it is similar to the 1993 computer game Shadow President. But with Budget Hero, every major decision, such as to repeal the Bush tax cut and raise taxes on the rich are accompanied with a list of pros and cons and potential impacts.
The folks at American Public Media worked with the Congressional Budget Office and the Government Accounting Office to get the data correct. When you finish, the game allows you to compare your "budget" to other gamers. A serious and detailed review of Budget Hero can be accessed here. This is a fun tool that can teach you alot.