30 Issues Follow-Up: How Big Is Government?

Friday, October 12, 2012

A pie chart showing budget expenditures for Federal Year 2010. The large dark red portion represents defense spending. (Wikipedia Commons)

All this week, 30 Issues in 30 Days looked at Big Government, from environment to housing to the military. Bu just how big is Big Government anyway? Michael Ettlinger, vice president for economics at the Center for American Progress, discusses the size of government and the share of various spending programs.

→ Below: The CNN Budget Poll and Various Budget Charts Referenced on Air | Interactive Chart from CAP

2010 Budget Spending by Category
Chart from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities


Michael Ettlinger

Comments [6]

Marcos from the Bronx

Please follow up: What percentage of our tax dollars are spent on militarism?

You know it's way more than the 19% of the huge pentagon budget. It seems the budgets of CIA and NSA are kept secret, the CIA is an agency that kills people. Department of Homeland Security has militarized the approach to issues like immigration. Much foreign aid is militaristic. The FBI deals with counter terrorism.

What percentage of US spending goes to agencies what are sanctioned to use violence (legally or otherwise)? How much of our government is given a license to kill? How much of our other spending deals with the consequences of government sanctioned violence? From the VA to other benefits due to our veterans.

Oct. 12 2012 11:34 AM

Since the U.S. has no VAT, mostly payroll and income taxes, 20% of GDP is 40% of income - GDP is half income/half outgo. Flat-taxers take note. The only way out is steeply progressive rates on income, spreading payroll taxes across more income and creating a mechanism to enable the collection of state sales tax by the Federal government (one hoop for vendors to jump through).

In my fantasy world, capital gains rates are denied on foreign and multi-national profits (in other words, only wholly domestic concerns would qualify), interest on personal savings are treated the same way as dividends and the capital gains rate diminishes when the Fed budget is in deficit - automatic kick-in of more revenue.

Oct. 12 2012 11:04 AM
Leo from Queens

Brian: Let's be CRYSTAL CLEAR, though Midicare and Social Security take a significant part of the budget, There are SEPARATE Taxes collected specifically for these programs and most of the money comes from the working class and middle class - The Wealthy pays an almost significant proportion for this program.

If we increased the limit of income to be taxed for SS and Medicare, we would be able to make these programs solvent for decades and if you added negotiating for medications to get better rates and incentives for results as opposed to just providing more procedures, you can have billions of dollars in savings.

Oct. 12 2012 10:58 AM
Amy from Manhattan

How does CAP define what's included in the military budget? I've seen different groups include different things.

Oct. 12 2012 10:57 AM
RJ from prospect hts.

Please state explicitly whether or not you're including the contracting out of basic services, which has changed in the last 30 years. There's a significant difference between direct provision of funding elder services and contracting it out to private companies and nonprofit underfunded social agencies.

Oct. 12 2012 10:56 AM
Marc from Manhattan, L.E. S.

The Carried Deduction=Double dipping for the rich.

How? Hedge fund managers invest their own capital and - to the extent that there are gains on that - they are entitled to the lower capital gains rate. When hedge fund clients give their moneyto the fund to invest they get to deduct capital gains AND the fund manager gets to apply the same low rate to the fees the client paid ( the same cap games rate) under the scam we call The Carried Interest Deduction.

It is not rocket science to figure out that the foregoing is double dipping bought and paid for by outsize campaign contributions by the hedgies.

Oct. 12 2012 10:32 AM

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