Play Budget Hero and Learn How Your Fiscal Priorities Match Up with Senator John McCain’s and Senator Barack Obama’s

Contact: Brad Robideau

(651) 290-1113

Play Budget Hero and Learn How Your Fiscal Priorities Match Up with Senator John McCain’s and Senator Barack Obama’s

(St. Paul, Minn.) September 17, 2008—If elected president, Senator John McCain promises to restore the Republican Party’s reputation for fiscal restraint. Senator Barack Obama says he’ll go through the federal budget line by line. But you don’t have to wait until after Inauguration Day to see how their policies would affect the country’s finances or how they align with your priorities.

American Public Media today announced an updated version of its highly popular Budget Hero (, an online game that allows ordinary citizens to see how their priorities and values would cost or save the country. Players can now compare their fiscal choices with those of presidential nominees Senator John McCain and Senator Barack Obama.

American Public Media created Budget Hero in consultation with the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Public Agenda and The Concord Coalition. Budget Hero relies primarily on the budget model and forecasts provided the Congressional Budget Office, as well as numbers from independent think tanks such as the Tax Policy Center.

Budget Hero players work to achieve a variety of financial and policy goals in the game. Financial goals might include balancing the federal budget by a certain year, eliminating the national debt or limiting the size of government by keeping it at a certain percentage of the Gross Domestic Product (or GDP, which measures the size of the economy). Policy goals might include providing universal health coverage, fully funding No Child Left Behind or raising or lowering income taxes.

Since its launch in May, nearly 130,000 people have played Budget Hero. Many have said Budget Hero has changed their thinking about the federal budget.

The recently updated Budget Hero allows players to now see how their fiscal priorities match up with Senator John McCain and Senator Barack Obama. To earn a candidate “badge,” players must select at least two-thirds of that candidate’s policies.

Senator John McCain’s policies by budget category:

  • Keep Bush tax cuts (Taxes)
  • Cut corporate taxes (Taxes)
  • Link AMT to inflation (Taxes)
  • Give credits for health insurance (Taxes)
  • Lower estate taxes (Taxes)
  • Increase tax exemptions for kids (Taxes)
  • Make research tax credit permanent (Taxes
  • Expand tax write-offs for business (Taxes)
  • Give prize for cheaper car battery (Science & Nature)
  • Increase funding for cleaner coal (Science & Nature)
  • Eliminate pork-barrel spending (Misc.)

Note: Senator McCain declined to provide American Public Media with descriptions and cost estimates for his policies. As a result, there are fewer policy options for Senator McCain than Senator Barack Obama in the areas of health care, education and infrastructure. The McCain options contained in Budget Hero were derived from publicly available campaign literature and independent think tanks and are therefore limited in detail and scope.

Senator Barack Obama’s policies by budget category:

  • Keep Bush tax cuts for all but the rich (Taxes)
  • Cap and limit greenhouse gases (Taxes)
  • Giver workers a tax credit (Taxes)
  • End income taxes for seniors (Taxes)
  • Make research tax credit permanent (Taxes)
  • Increase tax credits for college (Taxes)
  • Give mortgage credit to all filers (Taxes)
  • Freeze estate tax rates (Taxes)
  • Expand funds and testing in K-12 (Schools & Kids)
  • More for after-school learning (Schools & Kids)
  • Fund research on clean energy (Science & Nature)
  • Provide relief for states (Infrastructure)
  • Offer government health plan for all (Health Care)

Note: The cost estimates and descriptions of the above policies were developed with the help of independent think tanks and Senator Obama’s economic advisors.

To learn about how to embed the Budget Hero widget to a Web site, visit

Additional support for Budget Hero has been provided by The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and the Richard Lounsbery Foundation.