Monday, July 30, 2012

Fed budget breakdown

The Numbers

Here is the federal government's budgetary breakdown for a recent fiscal year:

What percentage of this is devoted to education, transportation, public safety, and creating the Internet (i.e. basic research)?

I'm going to be as generous as possible to the progressive position and include ALL of defense spending in their column, since defense aids both basic research and public safety. Highways and roads are covered by the Department of Transportation. The Department of Education covers, well, education. And various other smaller departments — Department of Justice, National Science Foundation, etc. — contribute in varying degrees to public safety, research, and so forth.

Ready? Here we go:

Below is a list of all government expenditures, with Obama's and Warren's "public benefit" programs highlighted:

Social Security 19.63%
Department of Defense 18.74%
Unemployment/welfare/other mandatory spending 16.13%
Medicare 12.79%
Medicaid and SCHIP 8.19%
Interest on the national debt 4.63%
Health and Human Services 2.22%
Department of Transportation 2.05%
Department of Veteran's Affairs 1.48%
Department of State 1.46%
Department of Housing and Urban Development 1.34%
Department of Education 1.32%
Other on-budget discretionary spending (1.8%): $149.67
Other off-budget discretionary spending (1.3%): $108.10
Department of Homeland Security 1.21%
Department of Energy 0.74%
Department of Agriculture 0.73%
Department of Justice 0.67%
NASA 0.53%
Department of Commerce 0.39%
Department of Labor 0.38%
Department of Treasury 0.38%
Department of the Interior 0.34%
EPA 0.30%
Social Security Administration 0.27%
National Science Foundation 0.20%
Corps of Engineers 0.14%
National Infrastructure Bank 0.14%
Corporation for National and Community Service 0.03%
Small Business Administration 0.02%
General Services Administration 0.02%
Other agencies 0.56%
Other off-budget discretionary spending 2.97%

So, let's clear away the irrelevant government expenditures and list just the ones noted by Obama and Warren:

Department of Defense 18.74%
Department of Transportation 2.05%
Department of Education 1.32%
Department of Homeland Security 1.21%
Department of Justice 0.67%
National Science Foundation 0.20%

TOTAL: 23.4%

And that, of course, is being absurdly generous to the Obama position, since in reality huge portions of the defense budget, the Department of Education budget, and so on, have basically nothing to do with promoting public safety or educating workers. And let's be even more generous and round that 23.4% up to 25%, or one-fourth of the budget.

So what Obama and Warren are really stating is this:

Only one-fourth of your federal tax dollars go to projects and programs that benefit the general public and entrepreneurs; the other three-fourths are essentially a complete waste, or are at best optional.

Which of course is exactly what fiscal conservatives have been arguing all along.

So yeah, I agree with Obama: Let's slash the federal budget by 75%, and only fund services and programs that directly serve the public good.

The first leg of their argument has snapped, and the stool has toppled over. Since the essential programs aiding "the commons" are only a small percentage of an overall bloated budget, we don't need to raise taxes to fund them.

And now for the second leg.


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