How the Government Spends Your Money

"Cut the deficit, not my benefits!" quipped Motley Fool advisor Robert Brokamp in a blog post last week, showing how most of us are generally clueless when it comes to the federal budget. It's a great point that deserves more attention.

Most of us have a near-religious opinion of the federal budget. Knowledge of basic budgetary facts seems less common. Important things, like where the money is spent, are often lost in rhetoric. Robert's blog quotes one economist as saying, "most people tend to think that balancing the budget is a relatively easy task just requiring political will, something that would not affect them personally." The truth, though, is quite different.

Less screaming, more numbers
To address where exactly the government spends your money, I pulled numbers from the Office of Management and Budget showing total federal spending over the past two fiscal years. Have a look:

Total Federal Spending (in Billions)

Segment

2008

2009

Percentage
of 2009 Total Spending

Social Security

$617

$683

19.4%

Defense

$616

$661

18.8%

Income Security*

$431

$533

15.2%

Medicare

$391

$430

12.2%

Health (Medicaid)

$281

$334

9.5%

Net Interest

$253

$187

5.3%

Education/Training

$91

$80

2.3%

Veterans Benefits

$85

$95

2.7%

Transportation

$78

$84

2.4%

Justice

$47

$52

1.5%

Natural Resources/Environment

$32

$36

1.0%

International Affairs

$29

$38

1.1%

Commerce and Housing

$28

$292**

8.3%

Science/Space/Technology

$28

$29

0.8%

Community/Regional Development

$24

$28

0.8%

General Government

$20

$22

0.6%

Agriculture

$18

$22

0.6%

Energy

$1

$5

0.1%

Undistributed Offsetting Receipts

($86)

($93)

-2.6%

Total

$2.98 trillion

$3.52 trillion

100%

Source: OMB.
*Unemployment benefits, food stamps, child tax credits, etc.
**One-year swing attributable to 2009 stimulus.

Focus on what matters
The main cause of current deficits is a catastrophic decline in revenue. But let's just look at the expenditure side of the equation here.

Government spending is obnoxiously huge. Given. But this point can't be repeated enough: High spending has little to do with earmarks, foreign aid, or bridges to nowhere. Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, defense spending, income security, and interest make up more than 80% of federal spending. Every other individual segment is virtually irrelevant to the big picture. Entitlements and defense spending alone consume almost 60% of the bill. Unless you're willing to take a chainsaw to these two programs, it's a bit rich to protest the profligacy.

But very few are willing. Especially those who count -- politicians. Cutting defense spending seems off limits because it rattles the lobbying arms of Raytheon (NYSE: RTN  ) , Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT  ) , et al. and brings charges that you're a terrorism softy. Slashing entitlement spending is a PR no-no because no politician (from either party) dares to run on the "I'll force Grandma to live on cat food" platform. Cut income security? Good luck getting the "let the hungry kids starve" campaign buttons to fly.

These programs need reform. Oh man, do they ever. But that won't happen without cuts affecting those who qualify for entitlements, which is to say all of us. You. Me. Everyone. Even the most fanatical spending hawks, though, squirm when you start cutting their benefits. Spending cuts always seem vital so long as they don't hit you ... or your constituents.

That's what makes the government spending issue such a swamp. So many want spending slashed, but what needs to be cut in order to make a dent is realistically off limits. Areas where we are willing to make sacrifices -- say, NASA's budget -- make rounding-error differences at best.

What to do now?
The mind-bending difficulty of these choices makes long-term budget deficits nearly a surefire bet. It's unlikely that any of these issues will be sufficiently tackled this year, next year, or even over the next decade.

That doesn't bode well for the strength of the U.S. dollar, and makes companies with outsized foreign revenue, like Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO  ) , Philip Morris International (NYSE: PM  ) , and ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM  ) , start to look real good for long-term investors. On the domestic front, companies that can provide healthy returns in a slow-growth economy, like Verizon (NYSE: VZ  ) and Southern Co. (NYSE: SO  ) begin to look seriously attractive as well. These spending problems aren't insurmountable, but aren't going away anytime soon. Invest accordingly.

Got your own take? Let loose in the comments section below.

Fool contributor Morgan Housel owns shares of Philip Morris International and Verizon. Coca-Cola is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick. Philip Morris International is a Motley Fool Global Gains selection. Coca-Cola and Southern Co. are Motley Fool Income Investor recommendations. The Fool has a disclosure policy.


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Comments from our Foolish Readers

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  • Report this Comment On February 17, 2010, at 12:31 PM, wolfman225 wrote:

    This is a fine example of the problem of the increasingly generous benefits routinely offered by politicos to the general public in return for their vote. Most Americans are almost myopic when it comes to seeing the big picture of consequences to their poor choices. The polls show that citizens agree in their poor opinion of Congressmen/women in general, but they also "agree" in their high opinion of their own representatives ("Congress is a bunch of good-for-nothings. Except, of course for MY guy").

    So, we keep clammoring for ever-greater largesse from "the government" to ease our situation and the politicians are more than happy to pander to our selfishness. The only way to cut spending on these out-sized programs is to stop expanding them in the first place. It's much, much easier to NOT pay a benefit in the first place than it is to take it away later, after someone has come to see it as a necessary, and well-deserved, entitlement. In most cases, if we're honest, it's neither.

  • Report this Comment On February 17, 2010, at 1:25 PM, AirForceFool wrote:

    Completely agree... something like one in six Americans is collecting Social Security... we've bitten the bullet and raised the age requirement before... what makes it so hard to do again. The simple fact of the matter is people view these types of programs as an entitlement... for whatever reason, they are incapable of providing for themselves, and are all to happy to gripe that the government needs to do something about it. For example, my mother-in-law collects social security for their granddaughter who they are raising, though she has never worked a day in her life. I'm not saying that there shouldn't be a program out there that helps grandparents raise their grandchildren (because their children won't/can't), but it shouldn't come out from social security.

    We need to reduce entitlements... pure and simple. But with so few willing to vote for it, the politicians won't push the agenda and risk not being in office. Sigh... one step closer to socialism... Chris

  • Report this Comment On February 17, 2010, at 1:46 PM, DecadeMan wrote:

    Social Security and Medicare have specific funding seperate from income tax. Social Security benefits are generally paid for by the recipients. It seems misleading to show defense and Social Security spending as roughly equivalent when defense is totally supported by income tax and (for the time being) Social Security is funded by Social Security taxes and the trust fund.

  • Report this Comment On February 17, 2010, at 1:49 PM, IlliniBanker wrote:

    Let's face it. We can't afford social security and medicare. Let's just get it over with- raise medicare copays to 30%, raise the retirement age to 75, and cut social security benefits by 30-40%.

    We DO need a mandatory retirement savings system in this country, but it needs to be pre-funded (No, I'm not arguing for privatized social security- I'm just arguing for paying our bills like any other pension fund.)

    I think a third party candidate can make a good run in 2012 on the platform of cutting back on social security and medicare.

  • Report this Comment On February 17, 2010, at 1:50 PM, TMFHousel wrote:

    "Social Security and Medicare have specific funding seperate from income tax"

    Well, that true. They have specific funding ... until they don't. What happens when the specific funding starts running red is where the deficit problems really start to spiral.

    -Morgan

  • Report this Comment On February 17, 2010, at 1:59 PM, pillok wrote:

    Thank you for reminding people of this. Maybe we'll remember this the next time we hear the "eliminate waste, fraud and abuse" BS which politicians use to explain how they're going to balance the budget without cutting any program anyone cares about. DecadeMan is correct about the different sources of $ for social security and defense, but it is all money that is not being used to reduce the deficit. It is also well-established that recipients did not fund their own social security spending: they money current recipients put in was spent long ago on past recipients. That's why the growing pool of recipients and the shrinking pool of young workers is a problem. Take a look at what is happening in Greece today for a good lesson on what happens when politicians refuse to say 'no' to constituents who think they are entitled to benefits.

  • Report this Comment On February 17, 2010, at 2:03 PM, dbillett1 wrote:

    I can understand the people who do not want to see social security cut, or the age limit raised to social security for retirees.

    We pay in to social security all our lives. It is not something we can choose to not do. It is taken from our paychecks before we even see it.

    What we really need to do is limit Social Security abuses. We should crack down on fraud with people who claim they have disabilities that are unprovable.

    When honest people pay into Social Security their whole lives, then it is an entitlement they deserve. Unlike those who abuse Welfare as a way of life, people who sit on Unemployment even though they are offered good jobs (I know a few).

    And it really is too bad we didn't privatize Social Security when we had the chance. It is my money for retirement, I should be able to have some say to how it is invested and when I pull it out.

  • Report this Comment On February 17, 2010, at 2:09 PM, milleniumfalcon wrote:

    I think its funny that people are attacking Medicare and Social Security, yet not looking at the second largest budget item.

    Defense spending is completely OUT OF CONTROL.

    If we cut 20% of defense spending, we'd still be spending around $450B a year on it. Much more than any place else. Much more!

    That couple of hundred billion dollars saved could be used to pay down the deficit, shore up social security, or you know, be put to a number of good uses besides finding more effective ways of killing people.

  • Report this Comment On February 17, 2010, at 2:19 PM, Melaschasm wrote:

    We should means test social security and medicare, just like the rest of the individual welfare programs are targeted to help the poor.

    We should also be honest with younger people, and announce today that they will need to be much older before they qualify for government subsidized retirement.

  • Report this Comment On February 17, 2010, at 2:21 PM, evenmorefoolish wrote:

    The government that has been attacking the Social Security Trust Fund "surpluses" since 1967. Unfortunately, those surpluses really weren't surpluses so now we will be forced to have the general population suffer due to unwise money management. They could just give me my contributions back and I would be a happy guy.

  • Report this Comment On February 17, 2010, at 2:27 PM, wolfman225 wrote:

    @dbillett1:

    When honest people pay into Social Security their whole lives, then it is an entitlement they deserve.

    _______________

    No argument here. However, consider just how much and in how many different ways the program has been expanded/changed from it's original purpose. SSI, Disability payments, etc. In addition, consider that when the original program was set up, payments began at age 65, while the average life expectancy was around 68. With life expectancy now routinely exceeding 90, the total amount of benefits paid far exceeds the amounts contributed during a recipients working life. The expansion of the program to cover more and more, combined with the longer life expectancies make the program unsustainable in it's current form. They need to curtail the spectrum of eligibility and also delay enrollment to age 72. Discontinuing the program entirely is a no-starter. you can't confiscate money from the workers without giving it back in some form.

    Personally, I'd be happy to have a "return of principal" for the FICA taxes paid to date, opt out of the SS system and be responsible for my own retirement. I'd never be allowed to do this, of course.

  • Report this Comment On February 17, 2010, at 3:38 PM, police12345 wrote:

    Spewing terror in the taxpayers hearts and minds by cutting SSI - Medicare and other benefits you paid for. Have you ever heard of cutting welfare to those who never paid taxes - of course not - or the illegal immigrants?

  • Report this Comment On February 17, 2010, at 3:59 PM, globalsailor wrote:

    One of the better TMF articles

  • Report this Comment On February 17, 2010, at 4:53 PM, mtracy9 wrote:

    Ronnie RayGun said that deficits do matter and criticized Carter for them. Of course, Ronnie would become infamous for tripling the National Debt.

    Cheney changed Republican orthodoxy by saying that deficits don't matter. Cheney/Bush then went on to double the National Debt.

    Now that we have a Democratic President, Republicans are returning to the old orthodoxy, saying that deficits do matter.

  • Report this Comment On February 17, 2010, at 4:54 PM, mtracy9 wrote:

    Ronnie RayGun said that deficits do matter and criticized Carter for them. Of course, Ronnie would become infamous for tripling the National Debt.

    Cheney changed Republican orthodoxy by saying that deficits don't matter. Cheney/Bush then went on to double the National Debt.

    Now that we have a Democratic President, Republicans are returning to the old orthodoxy, saying that deficits do matter.

  • Report this Comment On February 17, 2010, at 5:00 PM, ChrisBern wrote:

    "Entitlements and defense spending alone consume almost 60% of the bill. Unless you're willing to take a chainsaw to these two programs, it's a bit rich to protest the profligacy."

    Uhh, yeah, I AM willing to take a chainsaw to these two programs. There are more efficient ways to handle entitlements that require less overhead and bureaucracy--the negative income tax, for example. And most Americans are not in favor of the current wars that are being fought, so that should account for some cuts if our President follows through on his campaign promises.

    Department of Homeland Security, non-existent 8 years ago, already has over 200,000 employees. Yikes. It's sooooo easy for gov't to grow, yet nearly impossible for it to shrink.

    What everyone needs to realize is we're paying for these things one way or another. The gov't will either need to raise taxes or continue printing money--one costs us directly out of our paycheck and the other deflates our currency, but in both cases we still pay. I'm 37 years old and the gov't currently owes $40K in debt per citizen. I can't even imagine trying to explain to the next generation what the heck happened that caused them to be saddled with so much debt.

    Is there a leader who can stand up and make the necessary cuts and changes, politics-be-damned? Let's hope so, but I would agree with the article that this is not an easy challenge.

  • Report this Comment On February 17, 2010, at 5:00 PM, jbsiii wrote:

    I agree with wolfman225. I'd love just to get back the money I paid in, forget the "interest" and even the 100% employer paid match, and I'd never ask the government for any social security payout.

    Someone above pointed out the surpluses back in 1967, which is when we boomers started entering the labor market and swelling the revenues brought in. That was also during LBJ's "Great Society" days, when politicians seemed to think that spending taxpayer $ for new entitlement programs would cure all of society's ills. Is there any way we can resurrect these guys so we can impeach them?

  • Report this Comment On February 17, 2010, at 5:11 PM, eldetorre wrote:

    "We should means test social security and medicare, just like the rest of the individual welfare programs are targeted to help the poor."

    We pay directly for those programs. I would suggest instead that we should only be guaranteed a payout of what was contributed adjusted for inflation plus 1 or 2%. That's it. After that if we want to be generous THEN means test.

    Welfare should be abolished for all except those who are truly physically/mentally unable to work. For those able to work make them do real work for benefits.

    Most important: Make voting in primaries a legal obligation not an option. Our congress is useless because idealogues both left and right exert too great an influence on election outcomes due to poor voter turnout.

  • Report this Comment On February 17, 2010, at 5:12 PM, Idahosehead wrote:

    Great Article! Great comments (especially ChrisBern)!

    How come you people aren't running our country?

  • Report this Comment On February 17, 2010, at 5:13 PM, CarrieMike wrote:

    If Social Security had held true to its founding goal, that of a retirement benefit for the over 65, it would still be solvent. Instead it now pays disability and all sorts of other benefits to those who were not originally part of the system. Additionally, SS income MUST be dedicated monies, not part of the general fund to be spent wherever the govt. wants to use it. If those two things were reformed SS would be okay for a long time. It is not entitlements that are at fault, but the way they are abused that is the issue.

  • Report this Comment On February 17, 2010, at 5:16 PM, WyattJunker wrote:

    Social security should be phased out in tiers. People who paid into the system should get whatever the government stole from them with interest. As they die, they are removed from the debt roll obligation. People paying right now, should have to pay less and less over time to the point where 40 years from now, social security is completely disbanded. As a result you would also see people responsibly saving again for their own retirement as opposed to being completely oblivious as to how the real world works.

    Medicare should have some skin in the game, a co-pay for damn sure. And it, too, should be phased out along with state protected moats for insurers which inflate premiums. Also, please, tar and feather the damn trial lawyers. God, do we really need John Edwards types of sleeze crying in courtrooms like they're on Oprah and siphoning off the system?

    War spending should mirror frugal aggression where initial escalation in conflicts is the goal out of the chute. Wars only get expensive, as Sun Tzu noted, when they are protracted. We need to bring back the idea of short, devastating wars from the get-go. Incendiaries are cheap and yet very effective. Buckets of grease lit from a half mile above, finless, no GPS, tearing into hot shrapnel along rooflines as terror adopted towns turn into tinderboxes. Hey, its what my grandpa did in WW2. I have his bombing run spreadsheets to prove it. Pretty ugly stuff. Pretty effective too.

    Yeah, I could eliminate about 80% of the budget as the boomers die in segments as we grandfather out of these failed FDR and LBJ socialist fantasies.

    Also, a flat tax would kill the IRS. Just think about that. It would also flood the US markets with tens of trillions of dollars from foreign investors creating jobs for the next 150 years as we had zero corpy taxes. You would also watch revenues soar as people spent accordingly.

  • Report this Comment On February 17, 2010, at 5:23 PM, mdtopper wrote:

    I wonder......

    Is the same type of list available for the revenue side (shwoing the sources of the total intake)?

    And will it show a trillion dollars LESS revenue than spending in 2008? 2009?

  • Report this Comment On February 17, 2010, at 5:36 PM, maccdw wrote:

    The Fed budget machine is far too powerful to be controlled. Remember Gramm-Rudman-Hollings? It worked for awhile, only to give way to "off-budget" spending.

    A Democratic Republic is a very messy, cumbersome way top govern ourselves. But the alternative forms would be worse.

    The only way the budget will ever be reduced will be when the U.S. can't sell enough paper to the Chinese to pay for the lobbyists' wish lists.

  • Report this Comment On February 17, 2010, at 5:42 PM, toddsw wrote:

    yep, it's a mess. The social security "entitlement" well, I'm no expert but, the federal gov't keeps taking money out of my check to fund my social security account, so it is really an entitlement when I pay into it? I would gladly drop it if I could also drop my payment into the system for it. Same for unemployment. Can I opt out of that as well? I stop paying for it (and my employer) and I get the employer contribution added to my check. I don't need the $235/wk Alabama pays, I have a savings account. It might help if the gov't stopped building these rube goldberg machines under the assumption that everyone is irresponsible and needs gov't intervention to survive. Why don't they instead assume that we CAN take care of ourselves and fund it that way?

  • Report this Comment On February 17, 2010, at 5:47 PM, eldetorre wrote:

    Social security should not be phased out or completely disbanded. Implemented as originally intended it can work. Reality is that most people are too shortsighted to fund their retirements. That is a fact. Better to have a solvent narrowly focused targeted plan. Just limit payouts to total contributions.

    Short devastating wars are a nicety from the past. We may never have that luxury again. (Maybe we need to help setup a terrorist nation so we can wipe then off the map in one blow?) We do need to cut the waste in wherever it is.

    A flat tax is a good idea if the initial threshold is high enough. But there should be an asset tax not just an income tax. Too many ways to mask income.

    Zero corporate taxes help the corporations fill their coffers and pay execs big bonuses. Don't help the economy near as much as has been claimed.

  • Report this Comment On February 17, 2010, at 5:50 PM, knoconnor wrote:

    As has been pointed out, SS is paid by a separate tier of taxpayers, those with incomes below a cutoff point. SS is paid into a separate trust fund, which is not a part of the general government fund. It does, however, often appear as part of the federal budget (on-budget), though in other years has been separately listed (off-budget). This seems to be a major point of confusion. SS still solvent and will remain so for many years to come.

    The solvency of the SS trust fund is a separate issue from that of the US deficit and debt. Those who pretend otherwise are being disingenuous at best. Those who would like somehow to abolish the distinction between the two, or force FICA payers to bear a disproportionately large brunt of the federal deficit are simply taking money from the pockets of hard-working Americans, a sacrifice the richest among us won't have to make.

  • Report this Comment On February 17, 2010, at 6:06 PM, Wijilly wrote:

    There are some canidates who are very focused on reducing spending. Have ya'll heard of Ron Paul? He is a Texas congressman who struggles to reduce spending.

    This article paints a clear picture of where our country is headed without someone stepping up and shouting we can't afford this anymore.

  • Report this Comment On February 17, 2010, at 6:10 PM, FinancialWizNOT wrote:

    I believe the problems can be solved. These problems did not just surface in recent times – they have been around for at least 30 years that I can remember. The one thing all of us can do is reelect no one, not your guy, not my guy. I have advocated this for the last 15 years. Whether you vote in the primaries or not, when you get to the general election, reelect no one. If we turn the government over a few times, politicians will get the idea that it is a privilege to serve, not a career. Only then will something actually be done.

  • Report this Comment On February 17, 2010, at 6:37 PM, oghuman18 wrote:

    You folks lit my fire, I’ve never responded to anything before.

    While I agree some things need to be done about Social Security like Wyattjunker wrote. I don’t see Social Security and Medicare as entitlements. I just turned 63, I paid into these funds since I was 17. So if I died when I was 60, the government would have kept everything I and my employer put into it. Nothing to my family, another inheritance tax, I suppose. The actuarial tables don’t support your theory. When the company I worked for 38 years re-adjusted my retirement fund they used actuarial table that said I will live until I’m 74. Wofman255 - So stop pointing out about some people living to 90.

    Social Security should have been a separate fund all along and retirement funds should never be considered over-funded, if so, it will likely become underfunded.

    I was laid off a little over a year ago and I can’t wait to see you try to find a job in this climate when you’re 50 much less 60. I decided to give up since many of the jobs have been shipped overseas or to younger folks (you know who you are). If I want to take a lesser job - I’m overqualified. Meaning the guy in charge is afraid you might be after his position.

    So please enough of this nonsense trying to make me work until 75, I wish I could. Except I’m supposed to be dead by then. I suppose that money will go to some illegals or some new entitlement for you current 37 year olds or maybe even pay off some of this horrendous debt I didn’t create.

  • Report this Comment On February 17, 2010, at 7:05 PM, MICROBIOBOB wrote:

    There are a number of 'behind the scene" issues our "representatives" have in mind when considering a reduction in entitlement benefits: primary, in my mind, is their own benefit package and how to deal with that if they reduce the benefits paid to us peons and their fellow government employees; the pols (republicans, primarily) must consider reducing the largess to their pharmaceutical and other health related, financial sponsors; an unknown, but, apparently, substantial part of the benefit largess is, additionally, fraudulently obtained by the consumer and medical professionals which requires more regulation and monitoring and, of course, as mentioned, previously, their re-election prospects.

    I would also note that I have read that if our "representatives" had not raided the entitlement funds so frequently, without replenishing the funds, that a simple 3% interest on the untouched funds would have resulted in ample funds for some time to come. Very ill supported and defined statement, I realize, but, makes sense to me.

  • Report this Comment On February 17, 2010, at 7:12 PM, Harley117 wrote:

    I do not disagree with your article but I will make some additional comments based on my experience as a CPA and finished 7 years working for the Federal Government. First of all Social Security and Medicare are train wrecks waiting to happen and need to be dealt with as separate issues from the general budget. However, most politicans keep delaying the issue.

    Secondly, there is a tremendous amount of waste, fraud and inefficientency in government spending. Many will recall recent stories about fruadent billings by suppliers of Medicare services that were not delivered. Only the government would have such lack of internal controls to not verify deliver of services by the Medicare patient. Furthmore, most of the contracts for service or materials go to insider (beltway bandits) contractors that knows the in and outs of how to get a government contract. They are not the best.

    You will also note in the two year comparison there is an 18% increase in spending. I know there are some that will argue the need for increased spending because of the recession but I believe the stimulas is full of profigate spendeing.

  • Report this Comment On February 17, 2010, at 8:03 PM, gmcgfool wrote:

    The subject, Social Security and Medicare, seems to have become a main focus among comments.

    When SS first came about most people had neither the means nor the education to set aside retirement money and invest it wisely. Over the 50+ years I worked monies deducted from my paychecks kept increasing as more and more programs were placed under the purview of SS, then Medicare deductions were added. All deductions were taken with the implicit promise of some return of my money when I retired.

    Today's younger people now, thanks in large part to the Internet and increasing financial knowledge, are probably savvy enough to manage their own retirement money. I said many times over the years that I would be better off if I could invest the forced deductions on my own.

    Maybe it is time to rethink Government intervention and replace SS with a 401k type program available to everyone, tax deferred, where control of retirement savings is in the hands of individuals over the course of their working years. Such a program can be phased in over time but it will take political action by younger people who have the most at stake with the system as it is now.

    We can thank present and past Congresses for creating a Ponzi scheme out of Social Security.

  • Report this Comment On February 17, 2010, at 9:15 PM, ynotc wrote:

    Intrestingly only two line items in the top 10 are mandated in our constitution. Justice and Defense. I have already resigned myself to the fact that I should not count on social security or government for my retirement. None of us shoud rely on governement for anything accept that which the constituion obligates government for.

  • Report this Comment On February 17, 2010, at 9:25 PM, ynotc wrote:

    DecadeMan's comment about the "social security trust fund" points out the public misconception that there is a big pot of money sitting some vault waiting for your retirement. The trust fund is full of IOUs from the government who has used all the money to pay current debts. Sounds a little like Madoff.

  • Report this Comment On February 17, 2010, at 9:25 PM, Custom63Willys wrote:

    Hmmm. Where do we start?

    Perhapps we should worry a little less about being PC and tell people the bloody truth - like war is good for the economy.

    In business if you fire one guy for being a "jerk-off" the other Jerk'offs" seem to shape up...maybe we could apply this premise elsewhere???

    How about having the 50+ % of people in the country who don't pay any taxes pay some.

    How about getting rid of the corrupt union workforce that is crippling our businesses and government. Say grocery store checker getting paid >$25/hr or promoting 350+ undeserving people so a [junior] deserving person could get a pay raise.

    How about NOT blindly going along with the scores of sensationalist claims and doing some damn due diligence.

    How about limiting terms for all poloticians to mitigate some of the back door buddy favors that go on.

    How about, as a society, we stop promoting mediocrity and reward superior performance.

  • Report this Comment On February 17, 2010, at 9:36 PM, ynotc wrote:

    In response to Maccdw: In Washington State where I live, we passed an initiative limiting government spending and taxes based on inflationan and population growth. Now that times are tough the state government has passed a law voiding the initiative law so that they can raise taxes rather than balance the budget by reducing spending. They state that they have no ability to reduce wages because these are contracts with unions. Maybe when our state gets like GM they will learn how to go in and renegotiote these agreements. Even as the economy was crashing Washington State was adding employees. I agree with the comment that said that the only way to get the message across is to turn over governement a few times until they get the idea that we won't stand for thier insubordination to the will of the people.

  • Report this Comment On February 18, 2010, at 12:03 AM, lennysims wrote:

    The DEFENSE is the bs.

  • Report this Comment On February 18, 2010, at 12:18 AM, LessGovernment wrote:

    With all the talking heads and government cheer leaders proclaiming the end of the recession as some bit of great news, I simply offer this:

    Recession equals negative economic growth, going down, as in an elevator. So if you start out on the 100th floor of a tall building, and go down in a slow elevator and stop your descent at the ground floor, your downward path (the recession) has ended. That is the supposedly good news. However, you are also now on the ground floor, not floor 100. This is the reality of the situation.

    The problem I have with all the minions using gibberish (green shoots and the like) instead speaking in clear financial terms reflecting factual economic data, is that they make the end of the recession sound like everything is somehow fixed. It isn't. And it wont be for a long, long time meaning years or even decades.

    Think About It - Billions to Trillions

    Our National Debt first topped $1 billion in 1863

    87 years after declaring independence from England.

    1 billion per 87 years = $0.0149 billion per year

    Our National debt topped $1 trillion 1982.

    It took 119 years to go the remaining 999 billion of debt to reach the magic number of 1 trillion dollars of National Debt in 1982. Average debt added per year during this 119 year period = $8.4 billion per year.

    From 1982 to the present, our National Debt has increased to a whopping $12 Trillion not counting the several trillion hidden on the books of the Federal Reserve (a stinking money cartel). Average debt added per year during this 27 years = $407 billion per year.

    Do you see a pattern here?

    Our current increase in debt for this year alone will be in excess of 1.5 Trillion dollars or 1,500 billion dollars or nearly 4 billion dollars per day.

    Be mindful that this debt does not include the nearly 80 trillion dollars of unfunded social security, Medicare, and government retirement that is not even being considered and is growing by leaps and bounds. How any sane person can look at these facts and deduce that we are not on a course to insolvency is astounding.

    Worse still, to have a president and a giddy Congress now talking about creating some sort of government run healthcare without knowing what this will cost, how it will be funded, and what the impact of yet another socialist entitlement will be on our ability to compete globally, how this will impact jobs, and how this will impact future deficits is just as dumb as the same ditsy Congress signing into law the largest spending bill in our history without ever reading it. This is just another case of the lunacy being displayed each day in Washington by both parties.

    Putting the other entitlements on a funded course before discussing adding another entitlement seems too logical for Obama and his royal court, so expect more confiscation in the future as President Obama delivers on his promise to "spread it around".

    The irony here is the idiots that want to run our health care are the same idiots that could not process in a timely manner the checks to car dealers in the cash for clunkers program forcing car dealers into dire financial situations while they waited on big government to actually write the checks that had been promised. I look at this as an example of what is to come with health care should big government have its way. Namely, you will wait on health care while you wait on big government to do their paperwork.

    I have no confidence in government doing anything right whether cash for clunkers or running health care because I have the glaring example of Congress for a reality check as I continually witness what they have done to banking, housing, deficits and the economy at large.

    If the liberal (Progressive) mentality of feeling sorry for everyone which continually translates into the confiscation of more and more money from those that are responsible and work hard for a living does not soon change, we are doomed. This is because the real problem our economy is facing is simply discretionary income is being wiped out due to bad trade policies and the socialization of living expenses resulting in ever increasing payroll and income taxes which is destroying discretionary income.

    Without sufficient discretionary income, economic activity (read opportunity for all) is reduced. The more we increase the deficits to socialize the "cure" for lack of personal responsibility, the more we destroy discretionary income through higher taxes which drastically reduces economic opportunity in the process. I think we are approaching a critical juncture from which we may not be able to escape if we continue as we have been behaving.

    Entrepreneurs do not think like government. They understand costs and profit, and they will correct the problem of employment costs being too high by purging employees. We see this every day as unemployment is still very high and remaining so. To even contemplate a program that will further add to the cost of employment is counter productive to solving the root problem. So, expect more lost jobs and slow increases in employment when and if recovery does occur in 2011 and beyond which at this point seems doubtful.

    Even our source of funding for our entitlement pursuits is ridiculous at best and carefully crafted to destroy America at worst. Imagine what effect our current 7.6% employment penalty (employers portion of payroll tax) tax has on our ability to be competitive in a global market. We are already starting out with a wage base that is higher than most of our trading partners, and now, due to the funding mechanism for entitlements chosen by the idiots in Congress, we are adding an additional 7.6% to that already uncompetitive cost of labor. The result of this is yet more lost jobs due to not being globally competitive.

    The only logical manner in which to fund entitlements is through a consumption tax so foreign producers are not advantaged by our entitlement funding mechanisms which results in the export of our jobs. We, as a nation have to come to grips with the single and glaring fact that China's main export to the world in unemployment. Understand this, and we might be able to get our house in order.

    To suffer as we are is bad enough. To have the idiots in Congress spend payroll tax funds on anything but what they were intended for is just adding insult to injury. Worse still, is to lump the entitlements into the overall deficit and claim they are not affordable when they have already been once funded is simply inexcusable.

    By the way, those IOU's that the Congressional idiots claim are in the trust funds are themselves worthless. What those IOU's represent are the future borrowings that are needed to monetize those IOU's into something that can be turned into a benefits check. More lies and distortions from the idiots in Congress.

    Our President (another Progressive) continues to oversee the most rapid expansion of government "cost" in our history while Congress continues down the path to a National Health Insurance scheme without even knowing what it will cost and how it will impact employment let alone healthcare itself. Both entities are ignoring at least publicly the massive unfunded and growing liabilities from our current entitlements.

    The result of this folly is that we continue to "borrow" (a fancy word for confiscation since the generation doing the borrowing will never pay it back) from our offspring in an effort to prop up our rapidly failing, heavily socialized, uncompetitive, debt based standard of living. More importantly, the rate of the "borrowing" has now accelerated to a rate never before seen on our planet. We are setting world records in being irresponsible, indicating that a change in paradigm called default is in our future. Default is coming, either on the bond interest, or in payment of benefits to those that have paid into the entitlement system. But understand this, default is coming.

    The most telling indicator of Congressional incompetence is that none of these creeps are discussing seriously how we will fund our nearly 100 trillion dollars of debt and unfunded current entitlements. Instead, they continue telling the same old lie that our debt is only 12 trillion dollars, ignoring the much larger obligations of unfunded entitlements in the process. The IOU's are in the trust funds because they spent money they should not have spent, and now, they try to convince us that the IOU's have some sort of value, when the truth is they don't.

    These are scary times as the very structure of our country is changing.

    Keep in mind, the only reason we have unfunded entitlements and national debt is we have been cursed with a Congress that has the political desire to spend (Vote for me and I will give you) while lacking the professional responsibility to fund the expenditures. These are idiots and cowards and it is time to purge the scoundrels from their thrones in a purge never before seen in our government. Now more than ever, we need more unemployed Congressmen.

    Fire them all.

    Never vote for an incumbent.

    Fire them in 2010.

    Please.

  • Report this Comment On February 18, 2010, at 2:51 AM, WyattJunker wrote:

    Agreed.

    Just remember, if you fire them, you must replace them with... somebody else... or something.

    Caligula had the right idea by bringing in a horse into the Roman Senate.

    My recommendation would be to replace them with us; the pig farmer, the book keeper and the part time window washer.

    And then to make serving a part-time gig. Very part time. Limit voting to maybe once a year. There are too many bills. And for every bill passed, you have to put to sleep 5 already on the books.

    The future is up to us. What we give to our children, is our decision to make... now.

    Currently we have 535 dillweeds hob nobbin' in the nation's capitol, not including the president and his coterie.

    That's a small number compared to our 300 million strong.

    If we can understand that, we can take back what's been stolen from us and recreate it in a peaceful, pro-growth manner.

    And hopefully, if we can do it at the end of this year in the mid-terms, we can arrest all these unnecessary spending bills in their tracks.

    If we don't, the bond market will discipline us instead and it will be much worse. We will be forced to reckon with our choices either way, however. These are very simple macro economic laws that are no different than the pain an individual gets into when they mindlessly overspend on worthless, non-productive stuff.

    A perfect example is UI. If it was up to the government, we'd pay up to 5 years for unemployment insurance. Why not? We already are up to 2 years! Might as well make it a nice, even decade. Its easy, see? All you have to do is walk to your mailbox everyday, get your check and then walk right back into your doublewide.

    Ah, the magic powers of government at work. They solve everything, including unemployment! They'll just send you a check! See how easy that was? All YOU have to do is walk to a mailbox once a week. Problem solved!

    Who knows, if they keep it up, we can increase unemployment all the way up to 30%! Who would want to work when government can do it for you? Why look for work? Milk it.

    And they wonder why unemployment is high?

    This is as sickly as it is Orwellian. Cradle to grave.

  • Report this Comment On February 18, 2010, at 5:31 AM, larchmont1 wrote:

    Did anyone comment on the fact that the only reduction in spending was in education? So we are leaving the next generation with a huge debt burden, but with lower grade education to deal with it. How much have we spent building schools in Iraq and Afghanistan? I say we, because "in a democracy, we get the government we deserve". Blame lobbyists if you like, but we voted for the cast of clowns that created the current predicament that we all now decry. Only kids today did not have a hand in this mess. Somehow, however, we managed to cut spending on their education, when we could not manage a spending cut in any other category. Could this be because children can't vote?

  • Report this Comment On February 18, 2010, at 5:53 AM, OldUK wrote:

    Soon INFLATION will be back, and it will be GOOD!

  • Report this Comment On February 18, 2010, at 6:24 AM, TopAustrianFool wrote:

    "The main cause of current deficits is a catastrophic decline in revenue. "

    What a joke. First let's make one thing clear, the government doesn't have any revenue. Its called income from taxes. And NO... The main cause of current deficits is a decline in income from taxes due to Boom-Bust cycles product of the FED monetary policy and government's catastrophic incompetence to adjust.

  • Report this Comment On February 18, 2010, at 6:25 AM, TopAustrianFool wrote:

    Yes cut education. One of the steps of socialism, given by Marx, is public education.

  • Report this Comment On February 18, 2010, at 6:57 AM, TopAustrianFool wrote:

    "Entitlements and defense spending alone consume almost 60% of the bill."

    Yes, cut that too. Way too much gets wasted.

    Cut 1/2 of NIH budget.

    Get rid of the EPA.

    Get rid of the Dept. of Energy.

    Get rid of Dept. of Agriculture.

    Get rid of Dept. of Labor.

    Start with that.

  • Report this Comment On February 18, 2010, at 7:08 AM, TopAustrianFool wrote:

    Here is what you do with Medicare and Social Security. You tell people younger than 35 that you will cut their SS and MC payroll taxes in half. And that the half they pay will be used to pay for the SS of their parent and elders that have created the wealth that allows them to save and invest more today. And then you also tell them that they better start maxing those 401(k) because there will be no SS and MC for them. The New Deal program is over. They can keep their SS card as momento's of an entitlement era that is no more.

    Not too complicated.

  • Report this Comment On February 18, 2010, at 8:03 AM, WMahler wrote:

    I honestly think that you have to start somewhere. The U.S. Congress passed a balanced budget act back in 1985. But the US budget has been balanced only 2 years since, including those years where we had a good revenue stream. Congress is touting they have passed a pay as you go bill recently (H.J. Res 45). Have you read it? It is only a couple of pages long...and all it does is amend the 1985 Balanced Budget Act.

    In the good years you must pay down your debts so that you can overspend in the lean years as we have now. People do it...Our Government must do it. Because they have not is why 15% of all of our budget goes to interest!

    If we had had balanced budgets in the past 8 or 9 years we would not have a 14.29 Trillion dollar debt and 15% of the federal budget wouldn't go to interest.

    Every dollar counts!

  • Report this Comment On February 18, 2010, at 9:13 AM, MATZOID wrote:

    Much easier to see in graphic format:

    http://user.mc.net/~bpentprs/lifezatrip/chartsonly.htm

  • Report this Comment On February 18, 2010, at 10:02 AM, jfielhauer wrote:

    Whether that deficit-building spending is lining the pockets of politicians or feeding homeless, mentally-retarded children with AIDS is immaterial. It's unsustainable either way, and it has to stop. When individuals go bankrupt, their assets are seized. The government has plenty of assets to seize, most of it in expensive locations in D.C. When we finally remove all of these extra spending programs we should also sell off the buildings that housed them. There are several Federal Reserve buildings that could be housing profitable businesses that contribute to that all-important revenue instead of devaluing the dollar.

  • Report this Comment On February 18, 2010, at 10:10 AM, msm3rd wrote:

    A big part of the problem with Social Security is that the money that went into it was not kept out of the general fund, but was used up along the way on other expenditures. If it had been kept separate and used only to pay social security benefits, we would be in a much better position. Also, $108,000 is the maximum amount taxed for social security, giving anyone who makes more than that an immediate 6.2% decrease in their tax burden. Also, social security taxes are paid only on EARNED income, so anyone who makes all their money buying and selling stocks pays NO social security or medicare taxes on that income. Perhaps we need to fix that part first before we condemn social security entitlements.

  • Report this Comment On February 18, 2010, at 10:29 AM, Purpleheartfool wrote:

    Term limits, no "retirement" for congressmen or senators and tort reform.

  • Report this Comment On February 18, 2010, at 10:44 AM, ChrissyDean wrote:

    Haven't we forgotten that Social Security was never intended to be our retirement? It was intended to be a supplement only. Although, I have been contributing for over 27 years, I have "known" (taught in grade school) for more than 35 years that the program was unsustainable and would not likely be available as an income source for me when I was at retirement age. I do not (like many/most of my peers) work in an industry where a pension program is available. I am solely responsible for my retirement income. It is long past time for our politicians to make the hard choices to address the program's short comings, instead of making political decisions.

  • Report this Comment On February 18, 2010, at 10:45 AM, JuliaMan wrote:

    We as a nation are broke, yet we still feel it is our right/duty to commit war on the poorer countries. We have been attacking other countries, causing much pain, suffering, and environmental devastation at least since WW2. We are not top dog any more, but we continue to pour money into world dominance to keep up the charade. We wonder why no one likes us, but if someone (country) came into our country and started bombing places where terrorists might be hiding we would hate them immediately. We could save billions and improve our world image by giving up wars of aggression.

  • Report this Comment On February 18, 2010, at 12:02 PM, dnjjperson wrote:

    In one breath the writer says there is too much spent on defense and public assistance programs and in the next nothing can be done because giant corporations control the government. Seems to me limiting the money given to giant corporations is a better than having Grandma eat catfood or dying from inability to afford health care.

    If our country is to fail I would rather have it fail from an excess of compassion than an excess of greed.

  • Report this Comment On February 18, 2010, at 12:18 PM, MrDouglass wrote:

    What needs to be considered is the percentage of $ that actually gets to the benificary in all these programs. THe federal governments handling fee is too high. We need to cut federal employees benifits, allow layoff of unproductive employees and bring the Federal government in line with the rest of the private sector.

  • Report this Comment On February 18, 2010, at 12:24 PM, dymty wrote:

    How is it that we enetered into 2000 with a surplus? What happened there; did all of a sudden hundreds of thousands of people retire or become disabled? Mmmm, I don't think so. People will always want to cut 'entitlements' until it comes time for them to collect. Let's get real on that one; you'll have your hand out too, crying about 'But I paid into it, so I deserve to get something back' (hence, 'entitlement'). And as noted, SS is funded separately, and not part of income tax.

    The real burden on government funding is defense.

    "As of March 31, 2008, U.S. armed forces were stationed at more than 820 installations in at least 135 countries. Some of the largest contingents are the 142,000 military personnel in Iraq, the 56,222 in Germany (see list), the 33,122 in Japan (USFJ), 28,500 in Republic of Korea (USFK), 31,100 in Afghanistan and approximately 9,700 each in Italy and the United Kingdom. These numbers change frequently due to the regular recall and deployment of units.

    Altogether, 84,488 military persnnel are located in Europe, 154 in the former Soviet Union, 70,719 in East Asia and the Pacific, 7,850 in North Africa, the Near East, and South Asia, 2,727 are in sub-Saharan Africa with 2,043 in the Western Hemisphere excepting the United States itself." *

    "A total of 1,118,027 personnel are on active duty within the United States and its territories (including those afloat): The vast majority, 883,430 of them, are stationed at various bases within the Contiguous United States. There are an additional 36,827 in Hawaii and 19,828 in Alaska. 90,218 are at sea while there are 2,970 in Guam and 137 in Puerto Rico." *

    *http://siadapp.dmdc.osd.mil/personnel/MILITARY/history/hst08...

    1 United States 607.0 Billion, 41.5 % world share;

    2 China 84.9 b, 5.8%;

    3 France 65.7b, 4.5%;

    4 United Kingdom 65.3b, 4.5%;

    5 Russiaa 58.6 4.0%;

    6 Germany 46.8b, 3.2%;

    7 Japan 46.3 3.2%;

    8 Italy 40.6b, 2.8%;

    9 Saudi Arabia 38.2b, 2.6%;

    10 India 30.0b, 2.1%

    Now you see where the government is spending your money.

    Drinking the koolaide and buying into the whole fear thing is what perpetuates these wars and keeps defense contractors in the pocket of your government. Let's face it: War is big business, and less war (or god forbid, no war) would be detrimental to the defense industry. There was so much talk about the fallout if GM failed. One cannot imagine the catastrophic fallout if our defense industry dried up. It's another example of TBTF.

  • Report this Comment On February 18, 2010, at 12:37 PM, dgagen1 wrote:

    Ponder this budget issue. The average annual wage of "we the people" is about $42,000. The average annual wage that "we the people" pay governent employees is $71,000. And there are millions of them. The non-productive, paper-pushing beaurocrats make more than those of us who actually produce something, goods or services! How the heck did we ever let this happen? And we keep voting for the same old political hacks who vote for the budgets of the government agencies that pay these people. Are we out of our minds? America, wise up!

  • Report this Comment On February 18, 2010, at 1:03 PM, clydejazz wrote:

    If you add up the defense budgets of all our possible enemies: China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Al Qaeda, you get around 70 billion dollars. We spend probably 10 times that, when you count both the budgeted and "off-budget" (troops in the field) expenditures for defense.

    There's way more than enough money here to fund the shortfalls in entitlement programs, and still outspend everyone else on defense.

  • Report this Comment On February 18, 2010, at 1:07 PM, pberardi wrote:

    I disagree with everyone on this post that is alarmed about the level of military spending and how we need to reign military spending in.

    First off, the primary role of any government, federal, state and local is to protect its citizens from physical harm, violence and the infringement of individual rights.

    That is why we citizens grant government the right to use force including death in order to protect our life, liberty and property. We grant government a virtual monopoly to impose violent harm on our enemies, domestic and foreign.

    When used in accordance with our constitution, the military serves the people and quite well.

    Next, people look at the military $600 billion budget and think that is being spent on guns, nuclear arms, f-16's and $700 toilet seats. That's a myth. Most military spending goes to the men and women who serve our country.

    In my opinion, the military is the greatest "jobs and social" program administered by the the US Government.

    The people I meet that have spent years in the military are some of the finest and most productive people I know. They are trained in computers, high tech equipment, leadership, logistics, hardware and can learn just about anything thrown at them.

    They make wonderful workers and managers. They become FBI agents, policemen and CEO's.

    They are respectifull of others property and conduct themselves with the utmost class and dignity.

    The military is a jobs program, a social program, a training program and a military program.

    Our constitution explicitly requires the federal government to maintain a militia.

    I challenge anyone to find anywhere in the consitution any explicit authority granting the government the authority to tax its citizens for a comfortable retirement!

    It's not there.

  • Report this Comment On February 18, 2010, at 1:48 PM, chrone2 wrote:

    I have lived simply all my life. I do not waste resources. I did without many things to save some money for retirement thru my 403B account. I was advised to get out of the market a year or two before my planned retirement. I didn't listen. My greed wanted to stay and gather a few more dollars so I could enjoy a trip or two when I had the free time to do some traveling. The captains of industry/banking/investment stuffed their own pockets with money from the phony investment products that they "sold" with the aid of deregulation from generations of congressmen bought and paid for.

    As a result I lost most of my hard earned money and now thanks to the "donut hole" - a gift from the Bush era I struggle to pay for my medicines and worry about whether I will be able to pay my taxes and insurances to keep my home. All the while, of course, business makes enormous profit, controls the future for all of us via the" Multinational Agreement on Investments" making it illegal to protest corporate decisions around the world. Add to that the recent Supreme Court decision to empower corporate money and disempower individual citizens even further and we are looking into a bleak world to come...I began life as an optimist. I no longer feel optimistic for myself or for my grandchildren. Perhaps Exxon Mobil really needs the billions of dollars in "corporate welfare" more than I need help getting my medicines...and maybe the moon is made of green cheese....

  • Report this Comment On February 18, 2010, at 2:37 PM, Gorm wrote:

    The detail reported is actually worse!!

    Not only are entitlements unaffordable NOW, seniors are living longer and 78M boomers are coming on board - perhaps faster than expected unless unemployment turns around quickly.

    Lest we forget, unless we climb out of this DEEP recession quickly our problems will be exacerbated by rapidly shrinking tax revenue. And the problem just isn't at the Federal level. How many states and municipalities have 1) seen funding requirements surge because of equity losses, 2) abandoned pension and healthcare funding because there are so many other budget pressures. Clearly, unless the equity market surges, many states and municipalities will be seeking Federal bailouts, which we can't afford.

    Bottom line, our cowardly leadership will be forced, like Greece, to make unpopular decisions because we're finally facing the reality of unfulfillable promises.

  • Report this Comment On February 18, 2010, at 2:51 PM, ynotc wrote:

    I agree with pberardi. Defense and law enforcement are necessary to ensure that saftey and individual liberty are not infringed upon.

    To those of you who belive that we had a balanced budget in the 90's or a surplus etc. etc. you should check your facts. When you take out the money that came in for Social Security and Medicare which was supposed to be put away for future use the surplus/balanced budget disapears. Surprise, another governement accounting trick. Where do you think the banks got the idea that they could manipulate numbers for their benefit?

    To Dnjjperson; true compassion is when an individual gives from his own heart and is not coerced into it. To say that one is not compassionate because they don't agree with your point of view is arrogant at best. If you think that the government giving billions in social programs (or whaterver you want to call it) is compassion then you must feel that a drug dealer getting people addicted to drugs so that they will continue to come to him for their needs is compassionate. People with your view always think that confiscatory government policies are justified in the name of compassion. In truth this is nothing more than redistribution of the wealth.

    Human nature says that people are most productive when they are rewarded commensurate with their efforts and the risk that they take. When you start to take money from that effort (taxes) you reduce the intrinsic motivation which drives the machinery. I am willing to bet that you also think that more banking regulation would have eliminated our present crisis. If the present laws and regulations had been applied and insiders like Madoff had not been treated preferentially we would have discovered his fraud sooner. You can make as many laws as you want and there will always be people who will subvert and disobey them.

  • Report this Comment On February 18, 2010, at 2:52 PM, mpendragon wrote:

    We spend more on our military than the rest of the world combined and we've been fighting two wars for the better part of a decade while cutting taxes for the wealthiest Americans. We also prop up a failing private health care system with an obscene amount public and private money with results that are modest at best.

    In the private sector wages have stagnated for decades while the productivity of workers has dramatically increased.

    All of these things are badly broken and any effort to address them ends up with reformers being demonized for their troubles. I no longer care who is responsible and discussing it takes away from our ability to do something about these issues.

  • Report this Comment On February 18, 2010, at 3:39 PM, 1sweet1 wrote:

    It took me three passes before I could make myself read one more article on "GOVERNMENT SPENDING". What a great article! Let reason reign for a bit. And then the 5 corporate lawyers on the Supreme Court give away one of the last powers we have by overturning 100 years of laws in one activist decision. The Constitution said "We, the people." not "We, the corporations".

  • Report this Comment On February 18, 2010, at 4:04 PM, clydejazz wrote:

    The Constitution tasks the government with providing a militia. It does not say we have to spend more than the rest of the world combined.

    President AND General Eisenhower told us to beware of the military/industrial complex. He knew what he was talking about.

  • Report this Comment On February 18, 2010, at 4:52 PM, Melaschasm wrote:

    While there is likely some room to cut defense spending, it will not make much difference in a decade.

    According to current spending projections, defense spending will be a distant third a decade from now.

    The only way the US avoids a Greece like debt crisis is by reducing future SS and Medicare spending.

  • Report this Comment On February 18, 2010, at 6:06 PM, kljminer wrote:

    I just don't understand all the comments that actually believe SS funding is something different because it is a different tax. If I don't pay my income tax I can be fined and imprisoned. If I don't pay my payroll tax I can be fined an imprisoned. The taxes may tax in a different way, and on different basis/portion of income but they are fundamentally taxes. The supreme court has ruled that you have no right to any of the money you paid into SS. Congress (who has control of the budget, not the President, take a look at the constitution) can and has spent the money from SS taxes as the see fit. There are plenty of other issues I have with the fundamental misunderstanding of SS and entitlement programs, but this covers most of them.

    As far as the original topic of out of control spending. I am a huge fan of cutting and cutting hard. I'd rather you cut my benefits than inflate our way out. As a responsible saver I pay either way. I'd rather take the visible cutting of spending and waste than the underhanded deflating of the value of my assets and hard work to bring me down to everyone else's level.

  • Report this Comment On February 18, 2010, at 6:13 PM, trdhrdr007 wrote:

    I didn't read all the posts, but it look's like ya'll have covered SS & defense spending. How come nobody is talking about Income Security? That's over 15% of spending, a large part of that is child tax credits. If you have children you use more resources. Why should a family that uses more resources pay less tax? That doesn't even begin to make sense.

  • Report this Comment On February 19, 2010, at 12:15 AM, wolfman225 wrote:

    If I can add another point........trdhrdr007 brought up a good point with his/her reference to Income Security. It immediately made me think of two of biggest inequities in the Income Tax. The Earned Income Credit, based on income and # of dependent children (it used to max out the curve @ two kids, but has been expanded to grow with more kids), he has already referenced very well with his not-so-rhetorical question about those using more resources paying less.

    Secondly, I personally know of several people/families who regularly receive much more in their tax "refund" than they paid in! How can money be refunded if it was never paid out? One thing that should/could be done almost immediately to make the tax code fairer (the progressive battle cry) is to add one short line in the code: "In no event shall the amount of the tax refund remitted be in excess of taxes withheld."

    For those of you in "Rio Linda", this means that if you paid in a total of $5000 in income taxes, your refund is limited to no more than that. Once the various tax credits have eliminated your tax liability, that's it. All these credits are is welfare by another name.

    Personally, I get tired of hearing someone boast that they only paid in $2500 but got a "refund" of over $6000!

  • Report this Comment On February 19, 2010, at 10:22 AM, milleniumfalcon wrote:

    How much are we spending to keep non-vioent criminals in prison?

    Like pot-smokers, for example. Their only crime is eating too much pizza. :-D

  • Report this Comment On February 19, 2010, at 10:24 AM, kb01 wrote:

    I share in the frustration as most of the other posters. I could give up SSI and the associated disability benefits and dump the extra money into my IRA and get every AFLAC policy out there and still be ahead of the curve.

    However, I really don't know how the government could do away with Medicare. I could only imagine how expensive a private, individual policy through BC/BS would cost for a typical elderly 65 or 70 year old with health issues.

    I should have enough socked away in my 401k, Roth, real estate, and other investments but I just don't see how I could ever fully fund my own health insurance once I pass 60. How in the world could anyone afford an individual policy if Medicare were disbanded? Would a private insurer even want to risk insuring anyone in their 70's?

  • Report this Comment On February 19, 2010, at 10:25 AM, kb01 wrote:

    I share in the frustration as most of the other posters. I could give up SSI and the associated disability benefits and dump the extra money into my IRA and get every AFLAC policy out there and still be ahead of the curve.

    However, I really don't know how the government could do away with Medicare. I could only imagine how expensive a private, individual policy through BC/BS would cost for a typical elderly 65 or 70 year old with health issues.

    I should have enough socked away in my 401k, Roth, real estate, and other investments but I just don't see how I could ever fully fund my own health insurance once I pass 60. How in the world could anyone afford an individual policy if Medicare were disbanded? Would a private insurer even want to risk insuring anyone in their 70's?

  • Report this Comment On February 19, 2010, at 12:44 PM, KoolJA wrote:

    It's wrong to put SS, Medicare, and Medicaid in the same list with other government expeditures. They are paid for by workers and employers. Unfortunately the federal government still borrows from SS funds to help pay for the rest of the budget which means our federal deficit is actually larger than is reported.

    It amazes me that so many fools would like to do away with these entitlements that allow our elderly to at least subsist. Not many people over 65 would be able to buy health insurance. And if the elderly must continue working past age 65 in order to have an income and to afford health care, fewer jobs may be left for younger folks and wages may decline.

    Defense is the costliest item in the list besides SS, Medicare, and Medicaid. Are you ready to do away with that too?

  • Report this Comment On February 19, 2010, at 1:13 PM, JSMBAPhD wrote:

    KoolJA, I am also baffled by the comments.

    Social Security "largesse?" That's not what I would call something I pay for.

    "Never worked a day in her life [to collect Social Security]?" Well, someone-- presumably her husband-- worked long and hard for it.

    "We can't afford Social Security and Medicare"? In other words, shove the costs of caring for the old onto their families. The last time this was tried in this country (pre-1935), 90% of all elderly people were impoverished! That's why we have Social Security and Medicare!

    The real problems are in Medicare and in the Defense budget. Medicare's problem is that health costs for the general population are through the roof. There's huge amounts of waste because insurance companies want it that way (see cost-plus contracting). Our Defense budget accounts for half the spending in the entire world, with much of the rest being done by our allies. It is costing us something like a million dollars for every member of Al Qaida or the Taliban that we kill. Surely there is a cheaper way?

    Thanks to Morgan for posting the numbers, but whipping up dissension and fear about "entitlements" (most of which the entitlement comes because the recipients *pay* for them) is just plain wrong.

  • Report this Comment On February 19, 2010, at 1:34 PM, BMFPitt wrote:

    "Thanks to Morgan for posting the numbers, but whipping up dissension and fear about 'entitlements' (most of which the entitlement comes because the recipients *pay* for them) is just plain wrong."

    They pay for some fraction of them, but not enough to cover their costs. Social Security cannot be sustained on its current setup. Someone is going to get screwed, period. I prefer that this be done while the first generation to raid the "trust fund" is still around to feel it.

  • Report this Comment On February 19, 2010, at 3:28 PM, freemarketfool wrote:

    The responses to this article, whether I agree with them or not, are all very well-thought out, and I've enjoyed them. Just a couple of things I'd like to note:

    There are fraudsters in every industry, but don't confuse the fraudsters with the industry. Most health care providers are honest, and every time someone wants to reduce our Medicare/Medicaid spending, they (we... I work in this industry) have yet another panic attack.

    Cuts to Medicare rates equal cuts to every other insurance pay rate out there, because every other insurance company contracts with providers to pay a percentage over and above Medicare's rate. Only Medicaid pays less than Medicare, so while these cuts keep coming through, even as the cost of running a healthcare facility increases, more providers drop their two lowest payers to stay in business. If Medicare keeps trying to do its trimming in its pay rate, Grandma won't have any doctors left to get help from. Don't worry, though, at the rate her Part B premiums and deductibles keep increasing she won't be able to afford to get medical care until they're rushing her to the emergency room, anyway (oh, wait ER's cost more than preventive care, don't they?).

    If you want to make changes here, start with the bureaucracy that is the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and all of their Blue Cross Blue Shield cronies masquerading as the local Fiscal Intermediaries. Here is a list of the intermediaries - http://www.cms.hhs.gov/contractinggeneralinformation/downloa... - have a look at how often Blue Cross is mentioned, then start looking at the other companies and digging up how many of them are really BCBS; Noridian and Trailblazer both are. These people are riddled with inefficiencies, not only nationally, but at the local level as well. Medicare covers one thing in one area but not in another, because the local BCBS - no wait, I mean Medicare FI (or MAC) - want to take the time and effort (money) to put their own special spin on it. Talk to a few health care providers and their staff and ask them what it's like to deal with Medicare. "Fast" and "effective" are not likely words. I've seen everything from physicians going out of business because of Medicare inefficiencies (I'm not talking statistics here, I really have seen it) to their latest gambit of paying companies a finder's fee to look for money they think they overpaid, rather than doing it themselves (do a search on Recovery Audit Contractors). I know, before you say it, that such bureaucratic waste is rife in government, but this one is near and dear to my heart, so here it is.

    Now for soapbox number two. Social Security is not doing alright, to any of you who think so. The robbing of that fund that my father complained about all while I was growing up has come home to haunt me. I now receive glossy, colorful periodic notices in the mail (which my parents never received) telling me that if something radical isn't done, only 75% of what I will be eligible for at the retirement I probably won't get will be available. I'm not worried though, my parents told me all of my life retirement would be a distant dream for me, and I have no doubt our spendthrift friends on Capitol Hill will just raise my taxes so that I can live in poverty now AND later.

    My father told me the Social Security taxes he paid actually went to his mother's Social Security checks. He said that didn't bother him; it was the duty of he and his siblings to look after her anyway, except that they could do a better job than the feds (it's too true). So really I'm only paying for my... wait, my father passed away before he was eligible for Social Security, so he doesn't get anything, and because of his early passing and the fact that my mother worked for a living, she doesn't get any benefits on his behalf, either. So really I'm only paying for... no, my mother worked hard all her life and she's living on the pension she personally paid into for 30+ years, and isn't drawing any Social Security at all. Wait, who am I paying for again? Not my parents, and it looks like there may or may not be anything left for me. Yeah, I want my money back. All of it. Now. And to those of you crying for the government to give us all our own 401K - stuff it! I have one of those hunks of junk, and with the stock markets over the last ten years it's been nothing but a losing bet.

  • Report this Comment On February 19, 2010, at 4:09 PM, LenexaPaul wrote:

    They need to start by cutting bureaucrats. They always go for the squeal factor by trying to cut benefits and services first. Then they need to start making bureaucrats co-pay their insurance and eliminate some paid days off.

    Really, what do they do with 2,500,000 employees (2008)? Payroll is $186,000,000,000 (2008). That works out to about $74,400 each (2008). That probably doesn’t include any pension. That sounds a little high for an average government jobs to me.

    see http://www.census.gov/govs/apes/ for stats.

  • Report this Comment On February 19, 2010, at 5:33 PM, drborst wrote:

    I like the article, and some of the comments (I didn't read them all and I'm sure no one will read this given the quantity already added), but I'd like to add one question:

    How did Clinton and the Gingrich's Republican congress get us to a surplus? Was it largely the growth in tax reciepts from the tech bubble, or did they actually get something right?

  • Report this Comment On February 20, 2010, at 12:00 AM, nucknucknuck wrote:

    Clean and easy.

    Drop Medicare insurance. We save a bundle in MC costs and we die sooner. Win -Win

    Why is it the federal goverments job to pay for my medical insurance. Plus we get to see what the health care debate was all about in a very personal way.

    Myabe we can't do it all at once but if I was king that is what I would work for.

  • Report this Comment On February 20, 2010, at 12:52 AM, GrubbyDollars wrote:

    It's time for one of my Grandfather's favorite curses - "Dag-nabbit!" Now, I have no idea what that means, but it was useful around children in his day, and it's printable.

    Why am I upset? Well, dag-nabbit, wake up and look around you! I've given President Obama credit for a few things he's done, and for a couple of speeches where he wasn't apologizing for America being such a bad country, but he just keeps giving me more to be angry about.

    What has raised my ire, this time, is how the stimulus money is being spent, how the stimulus money is not being spent, and how he is now asking for more...you guessed it, stimulus money! This time, it's in the guise of a "Jobs" bill, but even the democratic spokesman accidentally said, "... we're not supposed to call it a stimulus bill, it's a jobs bill."

    OH, well, that makes it okay with us stupid Americans; we'll love a "Jobs" bill, but no more of that stimulus garbage.

    This administration, and the democrats in Congress, thinks they can help us by just continuing to throw more and more money at the problem - money we don't have and will have to borrow. In just a few months, they have raised America's debt ceiling to 12.4 trillion dollars, and then again to 14.3 trillion dollars.

    The interest alone is enough to choke a whole herd of horses, and a child born today will be in debt, to the government, (actually China and Japan) their entire life.

    Where is all this money going? No one actually knows! That's right, a couple of hundred billion has gone out the door, and the administration's recovery.gov website has been filled with so many holes it could be a fishing net. Hundreds of millions show to have been spent in areas of the country that don't exist!

    Districts that live only in some web bureaucrat's imagination have created countless jobs with your money! In some places, every job supposedly "saved or created", with your money, cost as much as $6 million per job. Isn't that a sweet deal? If that job creates $6,000 per year in taxes paid, it'll only take a thousand years to get your money back.

    At least we now know where $383,000 of your money went. It went to a school district in Georgia that then used it to send 184 teachers, principals, and office staff to a Hollywood, California spa hotel for a conference. There, they will learn to be better teachers, administrators, and, I guess, typists. The jobs saved were apparently those of the hotel and spa employees.

    I can only assume there were no such hotels near Georgia with jobs that needed saving. Aren't you proud of your government's generosity? Oh, did I mention it was YOUR money they spent? The district said this money was better spent here than on needed school supplies.

    Can this administration, and congress, not understand the history of our economics? Proven over and over again is the concept that higher government spending, with the following increase in taxes, does nothing but create inflation, decrease jobs, and hurt the economy.

    Progressive plans for a more 'just' society only hurt all of us, including the ones they proclaim to help. Instead of giving the poor man a handout, cut taxes so an entrepreneur can give him a job. "But, no," they cry, "We must help the downtrodden."

    Idiots! How many times must that man tell you he'd rather have an opportunity than be forever banished to the world of the financially disabled by government handouts? How many times must we, the people, have to pay for your great dreams of 'equality for all' at the expense of those with skill, imagination, and the daring to create new opportunities for all. Tax CUTS are the answer, not more wasted spending.

    Now, let's all applaud those new and improved Georgia educators as they return to their classrooms without the school supplies they need, but with a better understanding of how to use them...if they only had them.

    ---------------------------------

    www.intelligentinvestingtips.com

  • Report this Comment On February 20, 2010, at 12:52 AM, GrubbyDollars wrote:

    It's time for one of my Grandfather's favorite curses - "Dag-nabbit!" Now, I have no idea what that means, but it was useful around children in his day, and it's printable.

    Why am I upset? Well, dag-nabbit, wake up and look around you! I've given President Obama credit for a few things he's done, and for a couple of speeches where he wasn't apologizing for America being such a bad country, but he just keeps giving me more to be angry about.

    What has raised my ire, this time, is how the stimulus money is being spent, how the stimulus money is not being spent, and how he is now asking for more...you guessed it, stimulus money! This time, it's in the guise of a "Jobs" bill, but even the democratic spokesman accidentally said, "... we're not supposed to call it a stimulus bill, it's a jobs bill."

    OH, well, that makes it okay with us stupid Americans; we'll love a "Jobs" bill, but no more of that stimulus garbage.

    This administration, and the democrats in Congress, thinks they can help us by just continuing to throw more and more money at the problem - money we don't have and will have to borrow. In just a few months, they have raised America's debt ceiling to 12.4 trillion dollars, and then again to 14.3 trillion dollars.

    The interest alone is enough to choke a whole herd of horses, and a child born today will be in debt, to the government, (actually China and Japan) their entire life.

    Where is all this money going? No one actually knows! That's right, a couple of hundred billion has gone out the door, and the administration's recovery.gov website has been filled with so many holes it could be a fishing net. Hundreds of millions show to have been spent in areas of the country that don't exist!

    Districts that live only in some web bureaucrat's imagination have created countless jobs with your money! In some places, every job supposedly "saved or created", with your money, cost as much as $6 million per job. Isn't that a sweet deal? If that job creates $6,000 per year in taxes paid, it'll only take a thousand years to get your money back.

    At least we now know where $383,000 of your money went. It went to a school district in Georgia that then used it to send 184 teachers, principals, and office staff to a Hollywood, California spa hotel for a conference. There, they will learn to be better teachers, administrators, and, I guess, typists. The jobs saved were apparently those of the hotel and spa employees.

    I can only assume there were no such hotels near Georgia with jobs that needed saving. Aren't you proud of your government's generosity? Oh, did I mention it was YOUR money they spent? The district said this money was better spent here than on needed school supplies.

    Can this administration, and congress, not understand the history of our economics? Proven over and over again is the concept that higher government spending, with the following increase in taxes, does nothing but create inflation, decrease jobs, and hurt the economy.

    Progressive plans for a more 'just' society only hurt all of us, including the ones they proclaim to help. Instead of giving the poor man a handout, cut taxes so an entrepreneur can give him a job. "But, no," they cry, "We must help the downtrodden."

    Idiots! How many times must that man tell you he'd rather have an opportunity than be forever banished to the world of the financially disabled by government handouts? How many times must we, the people, have to pay for your great dreams of 'equality for all' at the expense of those with skill, imagination, and the daring to create new opportunities for all. Tax CUTS are the answer, not more wasted spending.

    Now, let's all applaud those new and improved Georgia educators as they return to their classrooms without the school supplies they need, but with a better understanding of how to use them...if they only had them.

    ---------------------------------

    www.intelligentinvestingtips.com

  • Report this Comment On February 20, 2010, at 2:29 AM, ndhosford wrote:

    I recently went on to Social Security and will soon go onto Medicare. Just for fun I did the math on my and employer's contributions versus the benefits. I created a phantom account and paid it the contributions each year and T-Bill interest. The SS came to $397K for which I get now $19K /year i.e. about 4%. If that were a private plan it would last forever. A private company paying that poorly and then confiscating the account contents after I and my wife die would be criminal. Of course, the answer is that people like me who paid in the max most years are subsidizing many other voters who put in much less. It looks like the solution will be more of the same.

    Because I also saved and invested other money, I expect congress to reduce my payout to pay for votes from the needy and I expect much inflation and for the cola to reflect 1/2 inflation (probably by not counting whatever is increasing in price the fastest). That will allow real payouts to be reduced without anyone having to admit it.

    The same sort of calculation yielded $97k for (two people) medicare. That really does seem to be underfunded even before the vote buying deductions.

  • Report this Comment On February 20, 2010, at 1:09 PM, GeoffHasler wrote:

    Obama has just appointed Simpson & Bowles to recommend how to fix the deficit. I can save him the trouble. This will just be another committee whose recommendations will be ignored. Attack entitlements, this is the simple answer. Introduce sanity to entitlements and we're half way home.

  • Report this Comment On February 20, 2010, at 2:36 PM, MariaFolsom wrote:

    This all comes back to the Constitution. Our government should NOT be in the business of helping people. The only role of government is to protect our freedom and our property rights. It's that pure and simple.

  • Report this Comment On February 21, 2010, at 5:43 AM, ericandmisti wrote:

    I think the article writer underestimates the intelligence of the audience reading these articles. I think a lot of us understand exactly where the money the government spends goes and we are absolutely willing to cut those expenses. I have read a lot of articles recently quoting government employees making double (pay and benefits) what their civilian counterparts earn. Add to this low productivity and the impossibility of ever firing anyone and you have a huge source of waste. I suspect I could cut 30% or more from the federal budget without eliminating ANY services, just getting rid of waste and overpaid government employees. The only thing I care about the Federal Government doing is protecting me and maintaining the roads (yes, I think defense is the most important thing in the budget). Let me keep my and my employers contributions to SS and Medicare and I am certain I would retire with far more than I will get from the system. What happened to Americans who were willing to take care of themselves? I don't need the government to give me insurance or to protect me when I buy a house I can't afford. The government doesn't have any money, it can only take money from one person and then through an incredibly inefficient process distribute it to someone else. I have serious concerns about the future of this country. You cannot recklessly spend more than you take in every year. At some point (and it isn't that far away) it will be recognized that the US is no different than Greece and our creditors (China, Japan, Saudi Arabia) will start exerting more control over the future of America.

  • Report this Comment On February 21, 2010, at 1:21 PM, TMFHousel wrote:

    "I think the article writer underestimates the intelligence of the audience reading these articles. I think a lot of us understand exactly where the money the government spends goes and we are absolutely willing to cut those expenses"

    Apparently I underestimated your ability to read the first paragraph of the article, too.

  • Report this Comment On February 21, 2010, at 1:38 PM, TMFHousel wrote:

    Er, I mean overestimated.

  • Report this Comment On February 22, 2010, at 9:14 AM, centryInvest wrote:

    Government is still spending you money. They may be worried and they may be beginning to save, but there's no sense of urgency. And there's a rally on Wall Street. You know, every bear market produces a rally. You can expect the market to retrace its steps by one- to two-thirds.

    Give you a surprise: http://top-stocks-market-investment.blogspot.com/2010/02/bea...

  • Report this Comment On February 22, 2010, at 9:16 AM, centryInvest wrote:

    Government is still spending you money. They may be worried and they may be beginning to save, but there's no sense of urgency. And there's a rally on Wall Street. You know, every bear market produces a rally. You can expect the market to retrace its steps by one- to two-thirds.

    Give you a surprise: http://top-stocks-market-investment.blogspot.com/2010/02/bea...

  • Report this Comment On February 22, 2010, at 4:54 PM, dscfool wrote:

    Social security and Medicare are are PONZI SCHEMES which are going to bankrupt this nation. The original "investors" are paid off by the contributions of later "investors", with no saving or investing of the orginal contributors' money (which is just used by the government for whatever current expenses it sees fit),which is the definition of a ponzi scheme. There is no difference between them and other Ponzi schemes, except for the fact that they are run by the government and we are forced to contribute to them. A least other Ponzi schemes are voluntary and the victims share at least some blame for being easily duped.

    We have less young people contributing into the system, and more people retiring and living longer and longer, so there is no way that this Ponzi scheme can last forever without either imposing punishing taxes on the young or severely cutting benefits on the elderly (or both), neither of which is politically palatable, as others have mentioned.

    We really should have privitized it while we could under Bush, at least that would have given young people a chance to invest some of their taxes in their own personal accounts. I know I would gladly take that option, or opt out of it completely if given a choice (imagine that, the government letting us choose to invest our own money the way we see fit!!!).

  • Report this Comment On February 22, 2010, at 5:43 PM, roxydogy1 wrote:

    What kind of people are we that we cannot or do not want to care for the sick, disabled and old?

    We can pour money into policing the world but cut programs to feed, house and care for people? Greed has really got a hold on you!

    My parents relied on my father's pension fund from his company until it went bust, the stock market tanked and all they have left is social security. They both worked their entire lives but were screwed over by a private company.

    My son broke his arm - final bill $41, 000 ( no I am not making up that figure). That medical bill would bankrupt most USA citizens.

    Social security that is fully funded by our taxes to our government - I am all for it. National Health care that is fully funded by our taxes- I am all for it. I do not need to line the pockets of stockholders and corporations. I am all for higher taxes to fully fund these programs as long as the laws change so the politicians cannot steal from these funds.

  • Report this Comment On February 22, 2010, at 6:06 PM, Tygered wrote:

    Hello, I paid social security every year of my working life. Now that I'm getting close to getting my OWN money back, don't start mucking with it and saying it's an entitlement that I somehow don't deserve. That is totally bogus. In fact, I will probably never live long enough to get my own money back.

    Now defense can be radically slashed. We spend something like 400 times more than all the other nations in the world combined. Just who are we defending against? What we are really doing is granting true undeserved entitlements to huge corporations that only exist for the purpose of selling weapons to the defense department which will hopefully never be used, because if they are we're all dead anyhow. So cut defense, but don't even think of taking away my OWN money that the government has used for nearly 50 years of my life. I want it back and hope I live long enough to get every dime back.

    So go ahead and rant on me as some wild-eyed liberal. I still want my money back.

  • Report this Comment On February 22, 2010, at 7:28 PM, TMFHousel wrote:

    "Now defense can be radically slashed. We spend something like 400 times more than all the other nations in the world combined"

    Eh, close. It's actually about half the global total.(see here: http://www.ipb.org/US%2520Military%2520Spending%2520vs%2520t...

    You seem to suffer from Michele Bachmann-itus:

    http://caps.fool.com/Blogs/ViewPost.aspx?bpid=342656&t=0...

  • Report this Comment On February 22, 2010, at 7:28 PM, TMFHousel wrote:

    .

  • Report this Comment On February 22, 2010, at 10:52 PM, georcole wrote:

    One thing to keep in mind is that we TMF readers, as a rule, have made a decision to try to fund our futures. The average American has decided to spend everything they make and then some without saving much, if any, for their futures. I am not saying that TMF readers are better people than the average US citizen, I am just saying that we tend to have a stonger independant streak. So, while a lot of us may agree that something needs to be done, and quite a few of us may even agree on some of the methods to try to improve, realize that we are in the minority and that will cause us to have quite the uphill battle. We can do it though. As one of my friends likes to say, "The organized minority will lead the confused majority.". I do not know where he got that quote from, but I like it.

  • Report this Comment On February 24, 2010, at 12:10 PM, reddbird34 wrote:

    Excellent article. I don't think I've ever seen it simplified to this point. I'm keeping this one for future reference.

  • Report this Comment On December 17, 2012, at 6:36 AM, Waynejustice wrote:

    Legally, Social Security is not part of the Federal Budget. Those who attest to the practical fact that it is, miss the point.

    The government essentially embezzled the SSI payment funds when they shifted those monies to the general fund to cover rising government expenses without an honest plan for repayment in place. This was dishonest then and is dishonest today.

    Moreover, increasing taxes to fix this problem raises the specter of double taxation. The SSI program, with government cooperation, is flexible enough to adjust to changing requirements. The government must repay the SSI program monies, with interest, by cutting its expenses.

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