The Pardu

The Pardu
Watchful eyes and ears feed the brain, thus nourishing the brain cells.
Showing posts with label Foreign Aid. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Foreign Aid. Show all posts

Monday, April 21, 2014

Connect the Dots USA: National Priorities?

The Federal Spending chart (see post of April 3rd below) not only clarifies how we spend our money, it also reflects our national priorities. “Don’t tell me what your priorities are. Show me where you spend your money and I’ll tell you what they are.” 

In other words, talk is cheap. We can say we care about children and education, but is that where we invest our money?

So let’s break down the Federal budget. Here’s 2013 Federal spending all in one beautiful pie chart. If you master this, you’ll understand way more than most. The “fiscal year” actually begins October 1st of the year preceding, so we are already halfway through Fiscal Year (FY) 2014.

When Congress and the President cannot agree on a full-year budget, we often keep the government open using a series of Continuing Resolutions (CRs), which are temporary agreements to continue spending at pretty much existing levels. Last fall, the Republicans refused to agree on an FY 2014 budget or temporary CR that did not repeal the Affordable Care Act — hostage-taking the Democrats and President Obama would not allow — so the government shutdown on Oct 1st 2013 for sixteen days until public pressure caused Republicans to cave.

Back to the chart... Everything shown in red is Mandatory spending, meaning it is dictated by existing law and very difficult to change without a battle royale. This makes up about 2/3 of the entire budget and includes benefit programs like Social Security (23%), Medicare (14%), Medicaid (8%), and other Income Security safety net programs (10%). Interest on the long-term debt (6%) is dictated by prevailing interest rates.

Note that Social Security and Medicare each have a dedicated revenue stream through the payroll tax. Social Security’s 12.4% dedicated payroll tax currently covers its entire costs, so it is a 100% “earned benefit.” Medicare’s 2.9% dedicated payroll tax, however, was only designed to cover the Part A hospital portion. Because Medicare draws over $200 Billion per year from general tax revenues — for Part B (doctor/outpatient) and Part D (prescription drugs) — it can only be considered about 50% an earned benefit.

Everything shown in yellow is Discretionary spending, which is hammered out each year between Congress and the President. What I found most surprising is that almost all Military spending ($625 Billion), including war activities, is negotiated each year. And it makes up more than half of our Discretionary spending.

That leaves only about 16% of the entire budget — the little bitty 1% and 2% slivers in the lower right — that comprise the “non-defense discretionary” spending. It includes important investments like Education, Environment, Science and Transportation. And that’s where Republicans love to hack away. A $100 billion cut is less than 3% of the entire budget, but it’s a gigantic chunk out of just these little slivers.

Note that Foreign Aid is only about 1% of the budget (part of the Int’l Affairs sliver). In a recent poll, most people mistakenly believe it is a whopping 27% and that just eliminating foreign aid will solve our budget woes.

Learn more here:
CBO Budget Outlook 2014-2024


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Defense Spending, Foreign Aid, Human Services, Tax Rates, And "World Police Force"

When I started keyboarding here, my intent was to look closely at defense spending and foreign aid in relation to Human Services Mandatory Spending. We all know, despite our reticence, Mandatory Spending must be trimmed, modified or adjusted in some way.  With acknowledgement of the need to adjust mandatory programs, I will admit to amazement at the graphic above which depicts FY2011 Defense Spending in relation to US Foreign Aid (spending).  Since, I am offering admissions,  allow me to also admit the chart is a bit misleading. My overall point in writing here is related to GOP efforts to slash and burn any program outside Defense while refusing to tackle our deficit and budget issues via increasing revenue.  

All said, the stark and obsessive reality of 58% of the nation's Discretionary Spending on defense is pure overkill, hierarchically convenient (for military brass)  and  'turfdom' for congressional (members).

With aforementioned recognition of a growing (baby boomer) problem with Medicare as part of Mandatory Spending, I continue to wonder why  cuts in defense spending and increase in revenue should not offset the need to slash Medicare.  Even raising the Medicare eligibility age seems a slap against the nation's middle class and lower income strata. It just does not seem a balanced approach and the majority of pooled respondents indicate a preference for a balanced approach to deficit issues.

Since we started this webpage, our commitment to, comment about, and tracking of how we spend as a nation has been consistent.  We continue to receive graphic representations of "spending." One of the most prevalent area of social media graphic representation these days are defense spending and and in some cases aid to foreign nations.

Federal Discretionary and Mandatory Spending 2011
(Specific) Federal Discretionary Spending 2012

Click for larger view  (larger view is a must to facilitate reading)

A few closing points or questions. When will rational minds devote more attention to defense spending?  Even the crafty wire-brains in North Korea and Iran, know full well any attack on this nation would lead to releasing a form of extinction certain to render them dead.  Other countries will not take up arms against the largest consumer market on Earth. I think this is especially true of China and Russia.  As Rachel Maddow and others have posited, "we spend billions on 1950s weapons system."  The real threat is far less costly and has a major anchor in cyber systems.  Other than in South Korea and possibly Japan, due to North Korea, how necessary is our presence in worldwide presence as illustrated below. 

Currently, the United States has military personnel deployed in about 150 Countries…This covers 75% of The World’s Nations. 
December 31, 2011 overseas deployments
Total Active Duty1,414,000
Air Force – 332,724Army – 558,571
Marines – 200,225Navy – 322,629
The Top 14 Countries Where the United States has Active Troops
US Deployment Facts | Top 14 Countries Where US Troops are Deployed
Click here to see larger version of Top 14 Places to Find Troops

The United States employees around 81,425 local foreigners across the World.

All data considered and the case made for need to 'make adjustments' to certain human services programs, there is something wrong with rhetoric such as, "We cannot cut defense spending."  

Since this screed has a greater context of deficit spending and the US National Budget, the graphics above are hard to 'swallow' without some attention to people who are paying taxes at rates that contribute to the nations economic collapse in 2007/2008. 

If we are going to continue with over half the nations discretionary spending devoted to what amounts to a world police force, why not have people who stand to lose more (and can afford more), pay more in taxes?   The question is based in a  very basic form of deductive reasoning, but validate question.