8 ABQ residents balance US budget in reality show

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – There seems to be a reality show for just about everything, so why not politics?

Among its partisan battles, Congress has been unable to balance the federal budget. The latest Congressional Budget Office projections put the current shortfall at north of $500 billion. But if Congress can’t or won’t solve the problem, who will?

“I had a concept that regular people could solve some of the big national problems if they were given an opportunity to do so,” said Tom Carroll, a local PR professional. “If the people speak the problems can get solved.”

So Carroll came up with an idea to take eight people from Albuquerque, four Democrats and four Republicans, and task them with coming to an agreement over the course of two days. The resulting show is called “Big Bad Budget”.

“We were looking for regular people,” Carroll said. “Smart people, these are very smart people, but they know nothing about the budget.”

The group of eight included an attorney, a contractor, a university professor and an accounts payable coordinator. No politicians allowed.

Over the course of the nearly hour-long program that documents the negotiations, there’s plenty of squabbling.

But with minutes to spare, seven of the eight people in the group agreed on a deal with a mix of spending cuts and tax hikes. One of the four Democrats abstained from the final vote.

“It might not be the deal that you come up with or any of your viewers would come up with, but it’s a deal and that’s the point,” Carroll said. “We’re saying to people if eight people in Albuquerque can do it, why can’t Congress?”

Big Bad Budget is being distributed nationally by PBS and has already aired in Michigan, Colorado and here in New Mexico. Carroll says Netflix is looking at releasing the show as well.

“Someone suggested that we have a screening for members of congress but we haven’t gotten that far yet,” Carroll said.

Carroll hopes Big Bad Budget is the start of a string of political reality shows. One concept, similar to American Idol, could include a national vote.

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