Press Release Budget Government United States

New Tool Helps Reporters Put US Budget Numbers Into Perspective

June 02, 2021

Contact: Karen Conner, 202-281-4159Mail_Outline

Washington DC — There are a lot of big numbers that go into reporting about the federal budget. The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) can help put those big budget numbers into context with its updated online tool, the “It’s the Budget, Stupid” Federal Budget Calculator

The online calculator is simple. For example, the Washington Post recently reported these budget numbers: the cost of President Biden’s American Jobs Plan was lowered to a proposed $1.7 trillion over eight years, while Senate Republicans countered with an $800 billion proposal.

As CEPR senior economist Dean Baker pointed out, Biden’s proposal “. . . is a bit less than 0.8 percent of GDP. It is just over a quarter of what the Pentagon is projected to spend over this period. On a per person basis, it comes to around $640 a year.”

With the “It’s the Budget, Stupid” Federal Budget Calculator there’s no need to wait for an economist to do the math. Just enter the amount or cost of the program or cut, the number of years the amount will cover, and the starting year. 

The New York Times attempted, but failed, to “Make Numbers-Based Stories Clearer for Readers.” CEPR can’t promise that the Pulitzer judges will take notice, but adopting a standard of putting big budget numbers into context will certainly make you stand out from the crowd.

CEPR would like to hear from reporters that try out this new tool. Send your comments to [email protected].

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