Whose budget should you support based on naked self-interest: Paul Ryan's? The president's? A political group you've never heard of? The Atlantic Wire has created this handy quiz to help you decide whose budget is best for your actual life.
We took a look at the various plans under consideration, presented below from most to least conservative:
- Caucus of House Conservatives
- Paul Ryan / House Budget Committee
- President Obama
- Senate Democrats
- Congressional Progressive Caucus
After a through-ish review, we parsed out how each plan might affect Mr. or Ms. Regular American. But let's have an example. We put all 330 million Americans' names in a hat and pulled one out at random: Willard Romney of Massachusetts. Here's how the president's budget plan, out Wednesday to some wrangling about chained CPIs, would affect him.
Obama proposal: The Buffet Rule. The name refers to the idea that billionaire investor Warren Buffett shouldn't pay a lower tax rate than his secretary. It would ensure people who make $1 million a year pay a tax rate of at least 30 percent.
Would this affect Willard Romney? Yes. Romney paid a 14 percent rate on income of $13.7 million in 2011. He could have paid even less, but he did not take all of his charitable deductions.
Obama proposal: Closing the carried interest loophole. This loophole allows financial managers to claim a large chunk of their income is not income but capital gains, so that it's not taxed at the top income tax rate of 39.6 percent, but the lower capital gains tax rate of 15 percent rate.
Would this affect Willard Romney? Yes. Romney paid a 14 percent tax rate in part because about half of his income came from capital gains.
Obama proposal: Closing a loophole that "lets wealthy individuals circumvent contribution limits and a cumulate millions in tax-preferred retirement accounts," a White House press release explains. IRAs would be capped at $3 million.
Would this affect Willard Romney? Yes. In the 15 years Romney worked at Bain Capital, he grew his IRA to between $21 million and $102 million. You're allowed to contribute $6,000 a year to your IRA. Talking Points Memo's Brian Beutler reports this is a new provision in Obama's budget, and it's "intended to close the loophole that allowed Romney to amass" such a huge IRA.
Obama proposal: Higher cigarette taxes.
Would this affect Willard Romney? No. Mitt Romney doesn't smoke.
Obama proposal: Changing the way the cost of living increases for Social Security benefits are calculated. Obama's plan calls for chained CPI, meaning smaller increases. By some estimates, this change would cost the average worker who retires at 65, by 75 it would cost him $650 a year, and by 85 it would cost him $1,130.
Would this affect Willard Romney? Yes. This would affect everyone who's paid into Social Security.
So if this anonymous Willard Romney were to support a budget, which might be right for him? He might consider Paul Ryan's.
What about you? Which budget meets your highly specific needs? Take the quiz below and find out which of the various budget plans you should be rooting for.