Activity 7-1
Federal Budget Game



  • To gain an understanding of the federal budget and the role of military spending in the US economy
  • To gain experience in prioritizing needs and allocating resources.
  • To develop appropriate justification for a 'policy decision


  • Student Handouts:
  • The President's Proposed Federal Funds Budget (Page 1, Page 2)
  • How Would You Spend $1.5 Trillion? (Page 1, Page 2)(optional)


One - two class periods; could involve homework


Student understanding of the role of the military budget should be reflected through participation in group discussions. Students will be either presenting their budget to the class or handing in 'How Would You Spend $2 Trillion' as a homework assignment.

Suggested Procedure

1. Have students write down what they feel should be the top three to five spending priorities for the federal government. Ask them what the government can do to help people lead healthy and productive lives. Have them rank these from 1-5, explain why they chose them and how government funding might be used in that area. Provide a list of possible spending options from budget handout. Introduce the deficit and debt as well. Tell them education has traditionally been part of state government spending but there are arguments for more spending at the national level.

2. Present to the class the role of the overall federal budget. This could be linked to any current budget deliberations in the federal government, which usually take place in the spring of each year.

3. Have students review the actual federal budget from handouts.

4. After reviewing the budget with the class, each student should compare their spending priorities for the government with the actual budget. Each student should then develop their own budget using How Would You Spend $2 Trillion?

5. An alternative would be to take the worksheet home as a homework assignment.

6. Have each group present their budget to the class, with justification. Discuss the trade-offs of shifting government expenditures. To finish, have each student determine the opportunity costs of their spending decisions.

How could the federal budget and government policy be revised to help Americans have healthy, productive and meaningful lives?


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