A little butter and a whole lotta guns
September 19, 2013 4:52 PM   Subscribe

How we prioritize federal spending in America... National Priorities Project is a national non-profit, non-partisan research organization dedicated to making complex federal budget information transparent and accessible so people can prioritize and influence how their tax dollars are spent.
posted by pallen123 (9 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Watching these numbers go up at astounding rates reminds extremely uncomfortably of Cookie Clicker.
posted by JHarris at 5:13 PM on September 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

curiously absent: social security and Medicare, which make up right around half of total spending.
posted by jpe at 5:24 PM on September 19, 2013

As I've pointed out before, Nate Silver estimated that "protection and law enforcement" contributed 1.1% out of 9% to total federal budget growth as a share of GDP since 1972.

Yes, military spending has increased, especially since the Clinton cuts, especially due to wars, etc. Yes, our military needs deep cuts. Yet, law enforcement is the discretionary item that needs cutting most desperately, well currently it's outpacing everything else. In this page, law enforcement spending falls under DHS, which you'll notice exceeds the DoD YTD total.

Just fyi, we're only seeing discretionary spending discussed in this article, jpe, non-discretionary spending is obligatory stuff, like all the money FICA raises. There are accounting tricks for discretionarily spending money raised through the FICA taxes that fund non-discretionary spending, but afaik that money still gets counted as discretionary spending that year.
posted by jeffburdges at 5:36 PM on September 19, 2013

we're not obligated to continue Medicare or social security, though. We could redirect the spending on those programs the same we could any other, so it strikes me as odd to omit them from an analysis that purports to look at our values as reflected in our budgets.
posted by jpe at 5:48 PM on September 19, 2013

Yes, we're obliged in the sense that tax payers have purchased insurance through FICA. Yes, congress can rewrite the "insurance contract" screwing everyone, but they must explicitly change old laws, not merely pass a new budget. There are smaller but still huge sums paid out through Medicaid and Unemployment, which both count as mandatory insurance as well, just not FICA afaik.
posted by jeffburdges at 6:01 PM on September 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

that cuts both ways: if the programs are so important as to be automatically renewing, then its all the more reason to account for them when viewing our budgetary priorities.
posted by jpe at 6:19 PM on September 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

We're talking about mandatory insurance laws with a government provider. There is no automatic renewal because FICA funds belong to the insurance providers, not congress. You don't count your car insurance amongst your state taxes do you? In theory, there is no reason for the FICA tax except Social Security and Medicare, suggesting that cutting those ends FICA, probably pushing the government into default because they invest in government bonds.
posted by jeffburdges at 6:57 PM on September 19, 2013

Watching these numbers go up at astounding rates reminds extremely uncomfortably of Cookie Clicker.

And the Grandmacolypse has begun.
posted by Foosnark at 7:07 PM on September 19, 2013

There might be more "military spending" but they sure don't plan on enough toilet paper, or cleaning supplies, or hand sanitizer, or fresh fruit for the ships. Or butter.
posted by DisreputableDog at 8:59 PM on September 23, 2013

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