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Budget Calculator Puts Costs of Programs and Cuts into Perspective
WASHINGTON - July 22 - Every day, articles are written about government spending, often using enormous numbers but very little context. For example, readers are told that a certain program costs $760 billion, which seems like a lot of money. However, they are not told that this cost is spread over a 10-year budget window or that over those 10 years, the program will only amount to 1.7165 percent of the budget. Expressing spending as percentages of the budget and explaining how many years an amount covers conveys much more information than a number alone and can make that number much less scary.
A new budget calculator from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) does just that. Users will be able to enter a dollar amount and the period of time the amount covers. A simple click of the button gives the cost of the program as a percentage of the budget. Users can toggle to the advanced calculator to see numbers expressed per capita, as a percent of total revenue, as a percent of discretionary spending or as a percent of the unified budget. The CEPR budget calculator gives some much needed perspective to the costs of government programs and spending cuts.