Interactive graphic from the NYT showing how the 2012 is allocated:


click for interactive graphic

Category: Digital Media, Taxes and Policy

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

40 Responses to “2012 US Budget: $3.7 Trillion”

  1. obsvr-1 says:

    WOW – $98B for IRS — repeal 16th amendment and implement a consumption tax (e.g. , greatly simplifying the tax system, eliminate special interest deductions, credits and loop holes.

    would likely reduce IRS budget by at least 75%

    just a cursory look, but I can see why Rand Paul was able to find $500B even before tackling SS, Medicare/Medicade

  2. A work of Statistical Art…

    Fantasy and Disaster captured in a single image!

  3. Irwin Fletcher says:

    This may be the best chart I have seen on this blog..ever..
    As a guy who ran pretty large companies for quite a few years, here is what JUMPED OFF the page.

    If this government is serious about reducing their spending, they should only look at four areas:
    1. Medicare/Medicaid
    2. Social Security Administration
    3. Defense-Military Programs
    4. Treasury-Interest on the debt.

    When a smart company has to cut expenses, it looks at the “big buckets” and doesn’t mess with the small ones.

  4. VennData says:

    How much of this feeds Obama’s insatiable beer and cigarette consumption, 5… 10%?

    How can a good Muslim smoke and drink?

    He’s not even a good Muslim!

  5. jpl says:

    Wow..Since this space is to be used to demonstrate my own ignorance, how is the fair tax fair? Regressive taxation means that the shrinking middle class pays more. The income inequity is higher now than it was during the gilded age. Should we just do away with the middle class. When the WSJ dissed it, you know there’s problems.
    I’m glad that decreasing the IRS by 75B will help balance the budget..who knew.
    You can debate a flat tax but not a sales tax.

  6. SINGER says:

    PURE Socialism…

  7. DG_Allen says:

    What would be more helpful is an infographic that could display both the spending and the revenue. I’m more intrested to see where my income tax dollars are going. SS and medicare have the payroll taxes that pay for them. Then there is the intergovernmental borrowing and all manner of fees and taxes on things.

    We can talk about cutting SS and medicare all day long, but some has to pay for housing and medical care for our elderly population that is no longer able to produce income for itself.

    Defense is the first big bucket item that could be easily chopped.

  8. jack says:

    i agree with you mr. fletcher. everything should be on the table. from what i have heard from paul ryan, i think he mostly understands that. the question is does the overall public agree, especially when things start getting taken away. my only point of dispute with you is your assertion that the small boxes are left alone. i am sure there is a lot of waste in those ‘small boxes’. it is all relative. those small boxes are bigger than many of our larger companies.

  9. franklin411 says:

    Social Security costs the government exactly nothing. It’s entirely funded from social security taxes and surpluses from prior years held in investments. If we do nothing to Social Security, the only fiscal impact will be that the Baby Boomers will get 70% of promised benefits rather than 100%. Then, after those lousy mofos die off (praying and hoping and striving and wishin for that day!), Social Security will slowly return to a 100% benefit schedule.

    Anyone who tells you otherwise is trying to gin up support for scrapping the entire idea of insurance.

  10. It would be interesting to see exactly where the Medicare and Social Security funds are going and to whom.

  11. Irwin Fletcher says:

    The issue is not whether Social Security is costing the government something or nothing.
    This is irrelevant. Raise the retirement age and build a surplus, or use some of it to pay down debt, and thus reduce the interest expense that is choking us.
    The issue is hitting the big buckets. When you look at the size of the deficit, there is no way to address it with a straight face without starting with the four big buckets. Its very clear to see by looking at the graph.
    @jack: okay fine, then if the smaller buckets are inefficient, then propose a percentage across the board cut to those as well.
    In businesses that have to turn a profit, you tell the managers that they are being cut by x percent, then tell them to find the cuts, and come back with a plan. Companies do it every day. Have the managers be responsible for this, including the military leaders.

  12. jack says:

    franklin411, the baby boomers are already starting to collect 100% of their benefits. my dad is the first year of the boom generation, and he has been collecting for over 4 years now. i am the last year, and will be eligible in 16 years. this ‘mofo’ ain’t dyin soon. neither is my dad. he is in better shape than me.

  13. RW says:

    Very well executed chart but since it represents the headline ‘unified budget’ it is not of much use as a snapshot of the real fiscal picture.

    IMO the so-called unified budget is on a par with the headline inflation number. Try mentally removing all the self-funded trust accounts from the chart — SS, Medicare, etc — what remains is roughly the operating budget of the USA and more or less what congress has to work with for fiscal 2011/12 (mostly less once you take the favorite pork segments out). The trusts are not part of the general fund and would require actual changes in law to adjust so including them in the nominal federal budget for a given fiscal year is rather misleading from the get-go.

    But it’s worse than that. The unified budget’s lack of separate capital account and operating budgets, absence of forward-looking information on significant long-term imbalances in entitlement programs and the impact of inflation on the real value of pre-existing debt, as well as adjustments for the impact of cyclical conditions on revenues and mandated spending, pretty much make it of little use for anything other than headlines and political football.*

    *okay, it does make the general fund look a lot better too since it is the general fund that is in deficit, all the trust accounts are in surplus (even Medicare/Medicaid although it won’t be for much longer if we don’t find a way to control the rate of health care cost increases).

  14. James says:

    When a smart company has to cut expenses, it looks at the “big buckets” and doesn’t mess with the small ones.

    Defense is the first big bucket item that could be easily chopped.


    The problem has never been with identifying the “big buckets,” but getting political consensus. Everyone of these areas has a bevy of voting blocks, lobby groups, and legislators who will swear up and down that they can’t be touched. That includes defense spending, btw, which isn’t nearly as easily “chopped” as one might think.

    Something will eventually have to give, of course – it just may be a very painful process.

  15. Dow says:

    I’d start with cutting half of the US Military’s overseas bases.

  16. jack says:

    irwin, i agree with your solution on the small buckets. in fact, from what i understand, that is the new approach in the house, based on interviews i have heard with paul ryan. instead of micro managing every line item in the federal budget, basically he says ‘here is your share of what your department can spend, now deal with it’. i think we will see more of this, once they finish funding the rest of 2011.

  17. awells1902 says:

    Here we go again, simplistic charts, budget blocks like HHS lumping together welfare and medicare. Look at the 2009 actual numbers.

    spending revenues deficit deficit %
    Social security 683 654.0 -29.0 4%
    Medicare 430.1 288.6 -141.5 49%
    Unemployment 122.5 37.9 -84.6 223%
    Federal employee pensions 55.7 8.3 -47.4 571%
    Remaining government 2,759.2 1,260.3 -1,498.9 119%

    Social Security trust fund will cover deficit for the next 15 years or more
    Medicare deficit 49% is unsustainable, must be fixed, but is not nearly as bad as the rest of the government.
    Unemployment deficit is caused by recession, needs to be managed better.
    Federal employee pensions deficit is awful and needs to be fixed.
    The rest of government programs is the real bulk of the budget and the spending vs. revenues needs to be brought to balance. Deficit of 119% is clearly not workable.

  18. DeDude says:

    And the expenses they are talking about cutting to balance the budget are the tiny little squares that are barely visible – what a joke.

  19. Irwin Fletcher says:

    @DeDude: exactly.

    Business executives would be laughed at and then fired if they dealt with deficits this way.
    Until you see the big buckets targeted you will know that Washington isn’t serious about getting its fiscal house in order.

  20. Mr.Sparkle says:

    Where’s Ross Perot when you need him?

    Sad to say, that’s probably the last time I recall anyone attempting to address things in an adult fashion. Though I wasn’t an adult at the time, so perhaps my recollection is incorrect.

  21. call me ahab says:

    “Where’s Ross Perot when you need him”

    the same Ross Perot who dropped out of the Presidential race (before getting back in) because he thought the Republican’s were going to sabotage his daughter’s wedding?

    dude would have had a chance had he not pulled that stunt . . .just shows that billionaires can be a bit quirky

  22. rip says:

    I am in awe of DC going after the deficit in a big way and making it such a critical need AFTER they voted the elites their $400B in tax cuts.

    No one wants to talk about how cheaply they get off compared to the rest of the developed world. Except for their Caribbean tax havens.

    How’s this: any Republican that cuts programs that citizens paid for, without taking the needed tax hike is a phony baloney hypocrite only interested in profiting by way of the little guys.

    I agree Medicare is in serious trouble, most likely because of fraud. And not fraud by the little guy.

  23. call me ahab says:

    re the military-

    can we just go back to swords and gladiator helmets . . .and maybe some cool medieval weapons too- like flails . . .talk about badass . .

    we should have enough money laying around for that . . .

  24. Greg0658 says:

    saw this penny pie demo – gotta point out a flaw in thought – the pennies that flow into American hands just go round and round the pie circle – the pennies only disapear and begin to create a deficit if they exit America proper .. ie the Defense Department allocation in burnt fuel to police the world or a blown up humvee .. or the social security program in foreign world travel adventures

    imo the most trouble is coagulation in small circles and so we have a redistribution problem causing angst

    so SINGER .. “PURE So@lism” .. I differ in turning over our IDOTs to Haliburton .. I’d use another ‘ism myself .. I understand tho if ya can’t get a patronage job anywhere

    psst – the pothole roads this post winter season – I’m in another differ on that disaster cap’ism scenario – “fix it just good enough – remember job security”

  25. Greg0658 says:

    ps :-) any car other than a Government Motors vehicle .. and to be fair a partial ROI for any foreign motor vehicle made in the countrys borders … ya thats countryism over free choice global capitalism .. just being up front .. in that commercial voice “your gonna dislike how good your country is gonna look in a few years” .. when the deficits gotta go now hits the fan

  26. S Brennan says:

    Some big items on this chart seem really wacky.

    DoD is closer to ~800 Billion, not ~450 Billion

    The wars are no where to be seen, how come? Thats ~300 billion not counted.

    SSI is running a ~800 Billion dollar deficit? Bullshit.

    Whoever made this chart is a liar, a fool, or a tool.

    Pure propaganda, Barry please call this out.

  27. gordo365 says:

    Any bets on when debt service surpases military/defense? $1T?

    Who borrowed all that money anyway? F-n baby boomers…

  28. obsvr-1 says:

    Given Deficit = Gov’t Spending – Revenue (taxes, fees, duties …)
    Given National Debt = Accumulated Deficits (Taxes Due)
    Given US Money (either printed or electronic credits) is backed by the Full Faith and Credit of the USA

    Then with the exception of the mandate from the FRA 1913 requiring the US Treasury to issue bonds to account for deficit spending, why does the US Treasury have to borrow to spend. There is absolutely no reason for interest on the “Taxes Due” accounting of the accumulated deficits.

    If the UST did not sell bonds, the investors would seek private sector alternatives (Stocks, state/muni bonds, commodities, etc).

    * Repeal FRA 1913, End the FED, no need to have a CB for monetary control, fiscal malfeasance (QE1) or loss transfer to the gov’t (taxpayer) and flip side of that coin wealth transfer to banks/cronies

    * End US tsy and bond issuance (gov’t is not the debtor to anyone) – ends interest payments on Accumulated Deficits “Taxes Due” .

    * Setup a “Taxes Due” account at the UST, effectively Accounts Receivable which increases with spend and decreases with revenue (taxes). This tracks the deficit spending.

    * UST to take on the operational (clearing), economic monitoring, statistics collection, regulatory functions from the FED

    * End TBTF doctrine — Banks on their own, no gov’t backstop or bailouts; Enable competitive free market banking system. Market discipline enforced by owners and investors as the risk is retained by the institution. This would constrain or end the massive bank lobby machine.

    * Repeal the 16th amendment to eliminate income tax, replace with consumption tax (e.g. This eliminates special interest tax loopholes, deductions and credits and the associated lobby machine. Sets up a real time feedback governor for taxes based on GDP dynamics, change in spending/saving reflected in taxes collected ‒ dampens interest rate volatility and constrains the growth in the “Taxes Due” account (the deficit).

    * Eliminate or radically reduce all gov’t special interest subsidies — with further reductions in the lobby machine

    Seems this would be a good step in restoring faith in a competitive free market and averting the impending disaster.

    Of course, fiscal discipline in reducing the size of gov’t and managing the size of the “Taxes Due” account, through restraints on spending w.r.t. GDP and balanced budget goals

  29. RW says:

    @S Brennan, good catch!

    Whoever did that chart must have taken the “unified budget” literally (even though it is a complete fiction) and divvied up each segment of the separate federal budgets as of they were a % of a whole: So SSI, which is in surplus, suddenly gets a big deficit number while DoD (which is massively in deficit like the rest of the General Fund), gets a nice buzz job.


    And the off-budget wars, oh man, don’t even take me there.

  30. call me ahab says:

    there is really no problem because there is no mandatory expenditures that cannot be made “un” mandatory-

    there is absolutely nothing carved in stone- nothing that can’t change, nothing that can’t be repealed, nothing that can’t end . . .

    including the country itself

  31. ahab,

    I thought ‘it was All Free, you know, b/c it’s paid for by Taxes~!’ .. no? ;)

  32. If you want to save a fortune pay all managers a 20% commission on all efficiencies they find. It will cost you billions in the first few years and may make a few billionaires out of government employees but that is a small price to pay from all the savings that will suddenly be discovered

  33. V says:

    Anyone know why Federal Railroad Admin is up 53,540%?

  34. DeDude says:

    If you don’t put Fannie and Freddie together with the national budget picture you should not put social security in there. Social security is a poverty insurance program run by the government out of a different and separate bucket. The same could be said for Medicare/Medicaid separate tax system and bucket. These are different buckets that should not be mixed up with general revenue and general expenses. Give me three graphics one for each separate tax/expense system. On the side of each give me a green or red rectangle representing the size of the trust fund (green) or the debt (red) for each system. Then I will be happy – and call it a fair an-balanced infographic.

  35. DeDude says:

    “Anyone who tells you otherwise is trying to gin up support for scrapping the entire idea of insurance”

    It is worse than that. Those who suggest we should balance the budget by cutting social security are trying to gin up support for the idea that we should rape the poverty insurance system , although it is fully funded (for the next 25 years) by a grossly regressive tax, in order to fund absurd tax-breaks for the rich (and the debt these breaks created in the past decade).

  36. DeDude says:

    Mixing the entitlements with the general budget is a scam similar to “sales taxes” -designed to replace progressive taxing and funding of government with regressive funding of government. Our corporate master want to suck more out of the poor, and info-graphics like the above is part of that effort.

  37. zdog says:

    Where’s the corresponding graphic for the other side of the US balance sheet?

    It would also be fascinating to see both sides of the ledger animated historically.

  38. zot23 says:

    zdog makes a most excellent point: where is the companion chart about government revenues and sources? For those advocating a flat tax vs. income tax, it would be instructive to notice that there is no tobin tax revenue currently in the USA. Why not?

    I would say one more thing: there is no way in hell that the costs of the 2 “wars” are properly represented in that chart. They are showing what’s in the normal yearly budget for military spending, the upkeep. The wars are always voted on separately in special, emergency funding votes. If you add those into this chart, that section would absolutely dwarf everything else, even SS. Plus, the treasury does everything off the books these days, where’s the cost of all the shit we bought off the banks in the TARP scheme?

  39. RW says:

    Dr John Rutledge calculated the total assets of the U.S. Economy as $188 Trillion or 13.4xGDP in 2009 ( which makes the current deficit hysteria appear rather ridiculous.

    However Rutledge does this by way of noting that he calculates all the negative forces on the U.S. balance sheet amount to a $200 liability so the long-term budget conversation is clearly the one we ought to be having.

    To his credit this appears to be the conversation Obama is trying to start but thus far it’s not clear his voice is rising above the screams.

    And since SSI is in surplus for the next 20 years it is Medicare/Medicaid and DoD (+ war costs) that are the big buckets for the next decade.

    NB: Talking about “entitlements” as if they were a single entity could simply be ignorance but regardless it amounts to a strategy to leave more critical matters unchanged.

  40. ZedLoch says:

    awells1902′s breakdown is spot on. SS and Medicare don’t belong in this chart. My vote is to take a hard look at pensions and defense.

    Democracy in the Middle East means we don’t need a military anymore, amirite?