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I just had an idea. Why don't we open source the budget?

Why not? There's enough Progressive groups in this country, with a lot of smart people. We could maybe get Paul Krugman and Robert Reich in on it. It could give all the different groups, ranging from OFA to DFA something to rally around and get us all working together on something. Look at how the Right rallied against Obamacare. They were unsuccessful of course, but that's because they were trying to undo a law vetted by all three branches of government. We'd be balancing the budget, paying off (at least a little of) the debt, and getting our priorities straight. We'd protect Social Security and Medicare. We'd help the middle class and poor and tax the rich. We'd fund education and infrastructure. We'd eliminate Pentagon waste and corporate welfare. That would be much more popular. Why not? If some shady extremist think tank like ALEC can literally write legislation then why can't We The People balance the budget? Up front and out in the open for everyone to see.

No, we're never going to get a thousand people to all agree on everything, but we can vet ideas and let the best come out. I'm sure we can come to some kind of general consensus and that all of us put together are smarter than Paul Ryan. If we can get Krugman or Reich to lead our efforts that alone would help a lot.

Think about it. If we can come up with a balanced, fairer, wiser budget by the end of primary season it could be just what we need to drive turnout. Candidates could run on this. We could say, "Look at the mess the Republicans have made. Give us control of Congress and not only will we start cleaning it up, we'll balance the budget!"

If it ever got through Congress, President Obama would sign it, no doubt. That's the hard part of course, but it would be much easier with control of Congress and candidates who supported the Open Source Budget Project.

As for the project itself, we could set up a nice website where people could register, comment, submit ideas and vote them up or down, participate in polls, etc. Maybe forums. We could even have a space much like the diaries here on Kos where people could plead their cases for their budget priorities at more length and in detail. We could offer a budget simulator but it would be hard to make one with enough depth and freedom of options. Maybe if someone kept adding ideas as others submitted them, but that's a lot of programming time. There would be profiles so readers could see if that person has credentials like an economics degree or experience in public office or service (teachers, police, etc).

So could something like this work? It sounds to me like the kind of thing that's the best of the internet and why it needs to remain open and free. It looks to me like democracy in action.


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