(Moving here from a separate file for greater visibility.)
A MECHANISM TO BALANCE THE BUDGET
Suppose each member of Congress were to name a budget amount, and the median number is made law. Why the median? Because this is a number such that half the members have approved at least that number.
Of course, this number is likely to include a deficit. What to cut?
There are 435 numbers for each budget item. Let B(i,m) be mth-lowest amount chosen for budget item i; let T(m) be the sum over i of B(i,m). Let k be the highest number such that T(k) < revenue. If each budget item is enacted as B(i,k), then the budget is balanced. (Of course, if B(i,k) is higher than the median in one house or the other, it must be lowered.) This rule has the effect of temporarily requiring a supermajority for spending. Congressmen won't gain by inflating their numbers; that would just lower k. Pork-barrels would be highly vulnerable to clipping, while programs backed by a consensus would be immune.