Aren’t you glad your tax dollars fund that?

This is part two of three pieces I’m putting together in -celebration, dread, anxiety, relief, stress- recognition of tax day. If you are curious about some more detailed, substantive tax policy from my perspective, explore this and this. Yesterday’s post is here.

Americans pay taxes all throughout the year. Depending on the circumstances, we might pay sales taxes at the store, fees to obtain licenses, and withholdings from wages for income and social insurance purposes. However, April 15th holds a special place since it’s the day we have to make our tax filings official, and it’s this symbolism which marks a good spot to reflect on our priorities.

The reason we have taxes, the only reason, is to pay for the programs of the government. If a program isn’t worth funding, then it’s not worth doing. If a program is worth doing, then the taxation is worth it. Remember, all government funding is taxation. Debt issuance is simply taxation delayed until tomorrow; when a program is proposed, it is by definition a tax increase, even if the costs are temporarily funded by lenders instead of taxpayers.

For a variety of reasons, though, we allow massive waste to happen in our budget. The sheer scale of it is overwhelming at times. So below, I’ve taken the discretionary portion of the President’s FY 2011 budget request and prorated a description based upon the dollar value of each department’s budget. Every word represents $10 billion in funding. If there’s punctuation, that means I rounded down, no punctuation means rounding up. At $1.265 trillion, that’s 127 words for your reading pleasure, organized in two different ways of viewing the information. Specifically, I’m using the ‘2011 Request’ column on Table S-11 (PDF Warning).

Note that by this method, a few non-security agencies don’t get any words at all: State and Other International Programs, Corps of Engineers, General Services Administration, Small Business Administration, and Corporation for National and Community Service. The Agencies go in order of ascending budgets to better the illustration, first with non-security, and then with security (in the budget, they’re grouped alphabetically, and the security items are first).

So here goes…

List #1

Non-Security Agency spending

Science Commerce EPA Interior. Treasury. Labor. Energy Energy NASA NASA Other Other. Agriculture Agriculture. Justice Justice. HUD HUD. Education Education Education Education Education Transportation Transportation Transportation Transportation Transportation Transportation Transportation Transportation HHS HHS HHS HHS HHS HHS HHS HHS.

Security Agency spending

Nuclear. DHS DHS DHS DHS. Veterans Veterans Veterans Veterans Veterans Veterans International International International International International International GWOT GWOT GWOT GWOT GWOT GWOT GWOT GWOT GWOT GWOT GWOT GWOT GWOT GWOT GWOT GWOT Defense Defense Defense Defense Defense Defense Defense Defense Defense Defense Defense Defense Defense Defense Defense Defense Defense Defense Defense Defense Defense Defense Defense Defense Defense Defense Defense Defense Defense Defense Defense Defense Defense Defense Defense Defense Defense Defense Defense Defense Defense Defense Defense Defense Defense Defense Defense Defense Defense Defense Defense Defense Defense Defense Defense

List #2

Non-Security Agency spending

Science [$7.4 billion]

Commerce [$8.9 billion]

Environment [$10.0 billion]

Interior. [$12.0 billion]

Treasury. [$13.9 billion]

Labor. [$14.0 billion]

Energy Department [$17.1 billion]

Space funding [$19.0 billion]

Other Agencies. [$20.2 billion]

Agriculture Department. [$23.9 billion]

Justice Department. [$24.1 billion]

Housing and Urban Development. [$41.6 billion]

Yay for the Education Department [$49.7 billion]

Transportation includes budget authority and obligation limitation money [$76.0 billion]

The Department of Health and Human Services rocks. [$83.5 billion]

Security Agency spending

Nuclear. [$11.2 billion]

Department of Homeland Security. [$43.6 billion]

Veterans Affairs helps out our veterans [$57.0 billion]

State and Other International Programs funding [$58.5 billion]

Overseas Contingency Operations is the current line for Global War on Terror and the Long War [$159.3 billion]

The Department of Defense is the primary security agency in the budget. It is larger than the request for all discretionary non-security agencies. The Department of Defense oversees the uniformed military services of the United States. The major unified command areas are Northern Command, Southern Command, European Command, Africa Command, Central Command, and Pacific Command [$548.9 billion]

So which words would you remove? Where would you add? That’s something worth considering on tax day.

And every other day of the year, too.

You can read these words all over again at Daily Kos
.

Comments are closed.