As the countdown to the Presidential Election continues, there is plenty of finger-pointing, political ad content and rhetoric to sift through. One of the biggest areas of debate among the candidates across the board relates to the United States budget, our deficit and growing debt. With so much information out there, how do you know what is true and what is not? I don’t know about you, but curling up with thousands of pages of the national budget doesn’t sound like fun to me.
Over a year ago, I thought that there had to be a better way. I grabbed a few close friends and over pizza, we decided to be part of the solution. The result is BudgetControl.com, a completely non-partisan web application that lets every American — regardless of age, political affiliation, or background — try their hand at balancing the U.S. budget.
We wanted to make BudgetControl.com very user-friendly and easy to navigate. The site features interactive pie charts to show the impact of any adjustments you make to the federal budget. With every tweak you make, the website will show you the impact of your choices. For example, less money to social security means fewer programs for senior citizens.
Once you have balanced the national budget and you are satisfied with your decisions, you move on to the next page. Here you have the same budget from the page before, but this time you have the opportunity to apply budget plans from candidates, think tanks, and other politicians. As you click on each plan, the budget graph will change to reflect your budget selections and what the effects of their ideas will have on the budget for the next 10 years.
After you have finished, you can move on to the sharing page. Here, you can share your ideas for the national budget with friends on Facebook and Twitter. But even more important is a feature that enables you to search for your political representatives and send your budget to them directly. Simply enter in your zip code, and BudgetControl.com produces a list of your representatives. You can then choose whom you would like to send your ideas to.
In an age where we can get pizza in 30 minutes, and learn news from around the world in near real time, why can’t we get our ideas to elected officials easier? Before BudgetControl.com, in order to get your ideas to your representative, you had to: 1) search for who represented you, 2) go to their individual webpages, 3) fill out a form with your information, 4) and wait for you information to be taken and sent to the politicians. Most of these websites print your information, and snail mail it to your representatives. What makes BudgetControl.com unique is that your suggestions are emailed directly to your representatives instantly.
By now you probably have a few questions:
- Is BudgetControl.com difficult to use?
- No. It is user-friendly and provides enough information so that anyone can use the site, even those with no information about the national budget.
- Does it take a long time to use?
- It depends on what you want to do. You can get through the whole BudgetControl.com site and have your ideas emailed in less than 5 minutes. If you want to explore more information and learn more about the national budget, then you have the option to spend as much time as you like.
- What is the cost?
All of the experts are right — the Latino vote will decide this election. As a significant segment in the U.S. population, it is imperative that Hispanic voters have the information they need about how changes to the federal budget affect education, small business, and health programs. We want to give all voters, especially Latinos, the tools needed in order to make sound and informed decisions on how the government should be run.
Whether you are very knowledgeable about the national budget or you have lots to learn, BudgetControl.com is here for you. Let me know what you think of the tool at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Drew Brown is a co-founder of Budget Control, a non-affiliated, non-partisan company that provides tools to help simplify the U.S. budget and political landscape. The company’s mission is to offer the American people simple and clear information about the problems and challenges that face the nation. For more information, visit www.budgetcontrol.com. You can follow Budget Control on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/budgetcontrol and on Twitter @Budget_Control.