August 21, 2019

Fiscal policy refers to the decisions made about government revenue collection and government expenditures. But many Americans may be confused by the complex set of issues that comprise how the government raises revenues and allocates them.

What is fiscal policy? And what does it mean for you? Below are interactive tools that can help you answer these questions, making complex fiscal policies more accessible, understandable, and relevant to your daily life.


  1. The Fiscal Ship, developed by the Hutchins Center at the Brookings Institution and the Wilson Center, makes the federal budget more accessible and engaging by challenging players to put the budget — the ship, as it were — on a sustainable course. Brookings has developed a teaching tool for using the game in classrooms, and the Council for Economic Education has developed a module for using the Fiscal Ship in the context of analyzing political platforms.


  1. Social Security’s finances are not on solid footing. The Reformer, from the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, allows users to select policies to make Social Security more financially stable by modifying benefits and changing taxation rates. They have also developed the Debt Fixer, which illustrates the tough budget trade-offs that policy makers are faced with.


  1. The Understanding Fiscal Responsibility curriculum helps high school students to think critically about public policy issues including Social Security, Medicare, national defense, and the federal debt. First developed by Teachers College, Columbia University, and now disseminated by the Council for Economic Education, the curriculum includes professional development tools for teachers, as well as group activities and interactives to engage students in discussions and help them articulate their own views.


Related: How Much Do You Know About The Federal Budget?


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