Content Tagged: graphs

House passes Ryan’s budget

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April 11, 2014

Representative Paul Ryan’s proposed federal budget passed the House with a narrow margin of 215 to 209, after a week of attempted Democratic alternatives.

A question has arisen, though, of whether the passing of Ryan’s proposed budget is even necessary.  Many in Congress say that the Murray-Ryan bill passed last year supercedes a new budget plan, and stays in place for another year.  Many are seeing Ryan’s budget as more of a political stance, declaring Republican ideals, rather than a plan for a national budget.

Some coverage by the National Journal, Bloomberg, The Wall Street Journal (blog) and The Washington Post (blog) can help give students background information and an all-important look at how different media outlets report news.

On the House website, Ryan outlines his “Path to Prosperity” budget and uses the following graph to make his point in support of a balanced budget:  thumbnail

I found this graph to be a great tie to the UFR Lesson 5.4 on Numeracy and graphical representations.  You could take students through the numeracy lesson, but tie in the above graph and information found in current news outlets to give students a “big picture” view of Ryan’s proposed budget.  What does he want to happen, and how does he see it happening?

A great focusing question for students to consider is:  Is this economics, or is this politics?  There’s no right or wrong answer – have students look at the media information from multiple sources and analyze the data for information to support their argument.  Add in information from UFR Lesson 2.2 on Political Beliefs and the Federal Budget to help students understand where partisan politics falls – and has fallen in the past – into discussions on the national budget.  Or, you could pull the class discussion around to UFR Lesson 2.5 on Political Rhetoric.



Proposed Cuts in Non-Defense Discretionary Spending

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January 21, 2011

Reporting for, Jeanne Sahadi outlines a new plan from the conservative House Republican Study Committee to cut the budget by $2.5 trillion over the next ten years.  The proposed bill, titled The Spending Reduction Act, cuts over 100 items and seeks to hold non-defense discretionary spending at 2006 levels.  Sahadi cites RSC Chairman Jim Jordan, who calls the bill a “good first step” toward fiscal responsibility but also notes that “everything needs to be on the table” to reduce the national debt, including cuts to national defense – an area untouched by The Spending Reduction Act.

Sahadi contends that bill “sounds more straightforward that it would be in reality” because “the proposal does not make clear what would be cut to establish 2006 levels.”  Sahadi also notes that it is unclear whether or not the bill would reduce the national debt because “the bill fails to address the biggest pieces of the federal budget,” namely, defense and entitlement spending.

Teachers could use this article to introduce a class discussion about cuts to non-defense discretionary spending and the impact of these cuts on the federal budget and national debt.  A previous Understanding Fiscal Responsibility blog, “Non-Defense Discretionary Spending,” highlighted an interactive graph that students could use to see how much money is allocated to each area of the budget.  Students could use this resource to further inform their discussion about the proposed Spending Reduction Act and its potential impact on the national debt.


The Economist Addresses the Budget Deficit

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February 13, 2010

A recent article in The Economist argues, “Neither the president nor Congress shows any sign of knowing how to tackle the deficit.”  Citing unemployment statistics and data concerning the deficit as a percentage of GDP, the article makes dire predictions about Washington’s willingness and ability to address this issue.

A classroom examination of this article should explore the consequences of constitutionally mandated state budgets.  From the article:  “Most states are legally barred from running deficits, so when their revenues fall in times of recession they make painful cuts, firing workers and ending programmes—thus exacerbating the downturn rather than offsetting it.”  Students should discuss the implications of this statement.  In what ways can balanced budgets do more harm than good?  What are the positive aspects of requiring balanced budgets?  What might this look like on a national scale?

Another avenue of exploration would be to begin talking about the topics politicians seem fearful to touch.  The article claims, “No one dares touch defense, in a troubled world. The Social Security pension scheme is deemed sacrosanct by nervy politicians.”  Is this true?  If so, why?  What changes might the government have to make to change these attitudes?  This discussion could lead into a lesson about why fiscal policy is often difficult to create.


Excellent Resource on The Federal Deficit for High School Classrooms

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February 8, 2010

This New York Times article from Sunday, February 7, 2010, “Cut, Snip, Slash, the Deficit Is a Hardy Survivor” by Jackie Calmes, struck me as an excellent resource for high school teachers to use to explain the current controversy about the projected 2011 federal deficit and how to lower it.

A Huge Deficit Would Remain...

This article does a good job of graphically presenting the scale of the projected federal deficit as well as the components of the deficit itself. Teachers can help students also understand the size of these elements relative to the whole deficit. Because of it’s easy to comprehend prose and graph, teachers can use this article as a springboard to have students undertake a cost/benefit analysis of the various proposed cuts.

I am looking forward to the reactions of teachers who use it in their classes. Thanks.