To commemorate Tax Day, the fine chartmakers at the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities have created this look at where your tax dollars go. It’s nothing new for regular readers of this blog, but for lovers of wonky eye candy it’s a nice way of showing that about 70% of the budget goes to a mere four things: defense, interest on the debt, Social Security, and Medicare/Medicaid. This means that if you’re serious about cutting the budget, you need to tell us what you’re going to cut in those areas. Hacking away at the remaining 30% just won’t get you very far.
One nice touch is labeling all the various welfare program funded by Washington as “Safety Net Programs.” That’s good framing! Regardless of what you call it, though, that and education, which are usually the main target of the budget cutting crowd, only amount to 13% of the budget. Scrooge himself couldn’t squeeze more than few percent out of that slice of the pie. Bottom line: cutting the federal budget in any way that’s more than just symbolic is really tough. Maybe that’s why Republicans only get serious about it when they’re out of power.