Budgeting Priorities

Have you checked out the content on the National Priority Project blog?  They have some wonderful content worth perusing in your preparation for voting in this year’s election.  Romney’s going to say it’s all about the economy and try to tell America that President Obama is doing an abysmal job, when that’s just simply NOT the case.

Medicare and Social Security are considered “mandatory spending.”  If you look at the Romney/Ryan budgets, you should notice that what they’re trying to do is to reduce the benefits elderly Americans receive (that they paid for in anticipation of that benefit) such that “mandatory” spending is less, and thus “discretionary” spending is greater. What Romney and the Republiban will then do is:

  1. Increase spending on the military complex as an overall percentage of their discretionary spending,
  2. Decrease spending on the social safety net (that Romney isn’t concerned about),
  3. Gut the federal Dept. of Education and give the student loan program to the banks so they can rake in outrageous profits off student loans (guess that means we’re destined to fall even further from our 25th place in the world status),
  4. Pretty much eliminate the EPA and put environmental concerns in the hands of the corporations who they claim will always act in society’s best interests,
  5. Repeal health care reform, and
  6. Repeal all financial reform.

Now keep in mind that they want to do all of that while cutting revenue, while failing to close the budget deficit and while increasing our national debt even further to over $22 Trillion dollars.

A budget is really a statement of priorities.  THOSE budget priorities are NOT my priorities.  I may be an 8+ year Navy Veteran, but I believe our military complex consumes far more than it should, that it needs to be pared down, and that we, as a nation, need to learn to do a whole lot more speaking and a whole lot less bombing, surveilling, etc.  So, it helps to understand just how much of our tax dollars are consumed by that military complex and it’s contractors.  The National Priorities Project, today, has a nice tutorial explaining that:

All sorts of great questions come in on our Facebook page. One question we hear a lot is, How much of the federal budget actually goes to the military? In some charts, you see that military is more than half the budget. But in others, you see that it’s much less than that. This week at National Priorities Project we’re talking about all different kinds of budget pies, so this is our chance: Let’s settle this once and for all.

Out of the total federal budget, the military accounts for around 18 percent.

TotalPieDrawingBut then there’s the discretionary budget. You might be wondering, What’s the discretionary budget? The discretionary budget is what lawmakers vote on each year during the appropriations process. It’s different from “mandatory” spending, which lawmakers don’t have to vote on each year. That’s because mandatory spending includes programs like Social Security and Medicare, and the federal government automatically pays out benefits for those programs without lawmakers voting on whether or not to do so.

Mandatory spending accounts for around two-thirds of the total federal budget, while discretionary spending is around one-third. (Interest on the federal debt, a third category, makes up around 7 percent of total federal spending.)

MandDiscInterestPieDrawingThe military accounts for 57 percent of discretionary spending.

DiscretionaryPieDrawingAnd that’s why you’ll sometimes see that military is more than half of the budget, and sometimes you’ll see that it’s around a fifth of the budget. Got more questions? Check out Federal Budget 101 for more about mandatory and discretionary spending, plus a glossary, and a lot of other stuff too. You can also leave a comment below, or send me an e-mail at mattea [at] nationalpriorities.org.”