This paper describes the findings from a series of public meetings called the Exercise in Hard Choices. The Exercise consists of a budget decisionmaking game for self-selected members of the public working in groups. It is used to estimate the public's ability to discuss and resolve complex policy issues such as the federal deficit. Based on the outcomes of the Exercise, this paper examines the ability and willingness of the American public to make hard choices, discuss difficult issues, and rise above narrow individual and local interests in favor of the national good.
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