American Public Media recently launched Budget Hero--an interactive game that lets people explore the major issues of the election by changing the federal budget to match their stands on issues and values. Budget Hero tries to bring a level of clarity and simplicity to the federal budget. It is bound to be controversial since the game puts numbers against issues like bringing the troops home from Iraq soon, versus gradually or not at all, and providing options on taxes, Social Security, and Medicare.
"Partisan messages tend to cloud the real issues at play during campaigns," says the Web site, "and most candidates are loath to attach detailed financial impacts to solutions which make up their platform." American Public Media worked with the Congressional Budget Office, Government Accountability Office, and many others to gather the data for the game. Commentors are already suggesting tweaks: "I would have liked a 'cut the Military by 70%" button,'" says Jim from Boston. "Everything would have been paid for, and it would put us in line with the rest of the world." (For more on U.S. military spending and the Biblical mandate for peace, see 'A Theft from Those Who Hunger' by Frida Berrigan.)
Rose Marie Berger, a Sojourners associate editor, is a Catholic peace activist and poet.