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Posted at 10:13 AM ET, 02/17/2011

Explore projected spending in Obama's budget

By Ariana Eunjung Cha

Every man, woman and child in the United States will be paying more than $2,500 a year to cover for the nation's growing debt. Interest payments are projected to quadruple in the next decade, according to President Obama's proposed budget plan. In the year 2014, net interest payments will surpass the amount spent on education, transportation, energy and all other discretionary programs outside defense. And in 2018, they will outstrip Medicare spending.

Explore the government's projected spending through this interactive graphic. Surprised? Think this is reasonable? Or not? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Source: White House Office of Management and Budget

For a static version of this graphic, click here.

By Ariana Eunjung Cha  | February 17, 2011; 10:13 AM ET
Categories:  Budget and fiscal policy, White House  
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Comments

This is true,in the best of situations. yet if china raises the interest rate, it will be worse. Much worse.
People you have to realize we MUST at least start making all of the intrest payments.
in the 80's we were worried about the debit. Now we completely ignore the debit and worry about the short fall in interest payments (deficit).
IT MUST END.
We have to pay our bills, we can only do by cutting spending.

Posted by: kev4 | February 17, 2011 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Agreed we must cut spending kev4, but a few points where you misspeak:
(1) We do make the interest payments. That is what keeps us afloat, that we are able to meet our obligations as they come due;
(2) The deficit is not "the shortfall in interest payments" but the difference, in any given year, between revenue and spending;
(3) The debt is the accumulation of all annual deficits going back to 1789.
Under Obama's proposed budget we will have a $1.7T deficit and a total debt of $15T (roughly equal to the GDP). The only reason it is not worse is that Obama projects massive tax increases.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 17, 2011 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Social Securtiy is a self funded program. It does not run at a loss and by even the most conservative estimate is will not be in the red for another 25 years. The only money from general revenue that it receives is money to pay back what the government has borrowed from the "lock box." So why is SSI included the discussion....as if it is part of an emergency.....methinks it is politics. If you can keep talking about "cuts" in SSI then you can scare a lot of folks. We need to address Medicare and Medicaid now and then make real, not phony cuts in Defense. After we make those decisions we can go back to making some changes in SSI so that does not have a future problem. Even then the changes in age threshold are not many years down the pike and even then they will be graduated.

The chart needs to be large and the boxes need to have the relevant color. Such a small chart does not lend itself to an interactive approach.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 17, 2011 4:16 PM | Report abuse

All options should be on the table, not just spending cuts. Revenue has to increase too. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that the cost of the Bush tax cut extensions would be an additional $800 billion added to the deficit through FY12. That's why the projected deficit is so high!
See http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=3241
Also check out CBO.gov and there are loads of other sites too...

Posted by: Dr_Steve | February 17, 2011 4:58 PM | Report abuse

All options should be on the table, not just spending cuts. Revenue has to increase too. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that the cost of the Bush tax cut extensions would be an additional $800 billion added to the deficit through FY12. That's why the projected deficit is so high!
See http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=3241
Also check out CBO.gov and there are loads of other sites too...

Posted by: Dr_Steve | February 17, 2011 5:00 PM | Report abuse

Boy, oh, boy. The situation is much much worse than I thought. It's clear, we must live within our means. Immediately, we must start reducing our debt starting now and take steps to balance social security and medicare spending with what we bring in. I am one of those deadbeats who pays off my credit card balance every month. Looking at what we pay in interest is just killing me. It's a wasted money!

Posted by: Anonymous | February 17, 2011 5:35 PM | Report abuse

This graph is beautiful in its simplicity. The light blue line-discretionary domestic spending-represents investment in the future: science, education, conservation and so on. Investment remains static. In the meantime, spending on a bloated military that adds virtually nothing to future growth and development rises dramatically. Retirement support even for the wealthiest citizens eats up the largest share of increased spending. And finally, an health system that spends insane sums on futile end of life interventions almost doubles in cost in just fifteen years. You'd have to be totally befuddled to fail to miss the solution: stop waging foreign wars and cut military spending in half; rationalize Social Security; further reform health care, focusing on prevention (diet and exercise, anyone?) and limiting the most costly yet useless end of life interventions. And dramatically increase domestic discretionary spending, thus investing in future growth and development. If the bozos in Washington don't get it, call in the IMF.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 17, 2011 6:42 PM | Report abuse

Are we all stupid? The post calls this a "A Massive Spending Cutting Bill". Most folks, including myself, would agree it would negatively affect a lot of people. But the facts show it is insignificant to our deficit reduction needs. Almost everyone, Republicans and Democrats, is despondent about our growing debt. Yet the most radical proposal cuts $61 billion out of a $1,600 billion dollar deficit? Less than a nickle on a dollar. How will our society survive the day of reckoning when we truly must enact enormous tax increases and spending cuts?

As a 45 year old, I for one am willing to balance the general fund budget by some radical changes. Has anyone proposed allowing retirees to start collecting social security at 65 (now 62) and full benefits at 70 now (67 for me)? Then reduce the social security tax accordingly(I keep hearing the trust fund is solvent) AND increase the general fund taxes to match expenses and eliminate the deficit. I realize the debt would still be an issue, but at least it would stop growing. At the same time we would need to stop playing shell games with the trust funds and general funds. I realize that overall taxes would still need to be higher, but not as drastic as would be if we left social security alone. We owe it to future generations to address our debt soon. Seems like the least disruptive solution to me, but I'm not a politician, economists, nor budget accountant so I'd like to hear other's opinions.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 17, 2011 7:01 PM | Report abuse

The graph clearly shows that, contrary to what the politicians are saying, current spending is sustainable. What isn't sustainable is future spending. We need to cap and cut spending in a gradual way, not in the aggressive, almost panic-stricken way we're doing it now. Agree to a $3 trillion budget by 2015 and our federal revenue will catch up to that number by then--problem solved.

Posted by: dhenken1 | February 17, 2011 8:45 PM | Report abuse

To get a better wake up on what to expect in retirement due to Health Care

http://apps.hvsfinancial.com/HVAdvisorLite/

Posted by: jekyllisle | February 17, 2011 10:32 PM | Report abuse

If congress after congress hadn't looted Social Security funds for everything from defense to pork, the entire graph would look differently.

We can't we go hang these thieves? Oh, yeah ... they are the 'honorable'...

Posted by: Anonymous | February 18, 2011 12:46 AM | Report abuse

If congress after congress hadn't looted Social Security funds for everything from defense to pork, the entire graph would look differently.

We can't we go hang these thieves? Oh, yeah ... they are the 'honorable'...

Posted by: Anonymous | February 18, 2011 12:47 AM | Report abuse

It is B.S.

The report grossly underestimates future interest rates and still comes out gloomy.

It further ignores the fact that over the last ten years or so the GOVT has been rolling over mid and long term obligations into short term ones. That is why the interest on the debt before 2010 was relatively flat while the debt was rising dramatically. That process is mostly completed. That means the current debt is also highly leveraged to rising rates.

The average interest rate on the debt is currently under 2%. The report is "projecting" a relatively modest rise. The historic average is 5.5% and in President Carter's reign it hit 12.5%. Do the math.

When the FEDS can't print any more ponzi scheme funny money to artificially suppress interest rates, they will dramatically rise.

It was just ten years ago that we were on track to have a $0 debt today.

President Clinton: The United States on Track to Pay Off the Debt by End of the Decade
http://clinton4.nara.gov/WH/new/html/Fri_Dec_29_151111_2000.html

What happened?

The US is now a debt crack addict financing its habit through more debt. We are spinning down a debt black hole. The only possible escape is to balance the budget NOW.

The President and most in Congress are committing fiscal malfeasance and are destroying America. That also makes them no better than, if not, traitors.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 18, 2011 1:50 AM | Report abuse

Let’s take a quick look at these scenarios beyond standard economics. First, the US is not likely to spend less. As the preeminent world power it really cannot. So greater inflation is likely. Also, as the world’s preeminent world power the US will not default. But it may pressure the Chinese, etc. to take a reduced pay off. The Chinese, etc. have little choice. Their fate is tied to the that of the US. If the US goes down (economically speaking) it will certainly make a special effort to take China, etc. with it. No reason to assume it wouldn’t be successful. As Don Henley said, “… we’d still be no. 1” that way. Also, while the US may reduce outlays for SS, Medicare, etc. it is unlikely to end or even reduce substantially these programs. As Speaker O’Neill often said when I worked in DC, “Any politician seriously advocating an end to SS and Medicare as we know it would be lynched long before her/his bill make it to the floor for debate.” This has not changed. This obviously puts a squeeze on rating agencies and bond analysts. But if the US can squeeze China I don’t’ think it’s hard to imagine it could squeeze these agencies and analysts even harder for lots of concessions. Plus if these “worried” agencies, analysts, and the investors they supposedly represent don’t invest in the US or China where will they put their money? Under their mattresses? And let’s be real about this situation. The US is essentially the world economy. The US would likely survive if most of the other major economies in the world collapsed (not that it would be pretty). The reverse is not the case. This being the case if the world’s economy is to be restarted most of that responsibility falls on the US – thus the stimulus here while most (but not all) others reduce spending (sort of). And on foreign governments refusing to finance US debt without higher rates – come on get real. Even if you ignore the raw power of the US politically, economically, and militarily around the world, which these so called “foreign governments” will not; if the US decided to send out bills for 60 years of military protection to Europe, Japan, etc. the amount due would not only bankrupt these countries but would more than pay off any debt the US has to cover. So if we’re playing “real politick” the US wins, hands down. But some things do need to change. 1) political polarization must end; it's a disaster for us; 2) fix the tax code (rates from 1950 along with deductions from 1986 would work; 3) The US MUST reduse it military spending by 50%, at least; and 4) the US must focus on becoming a diplomacy power house in the world - the UK ruled the entire 19th century essentially with high powered diplomacy, rather than armed force.

Posted by: kenzimmerman | February 18, 2011 5:49 AM | Report abuse

I would like to see that graph net of dedicated income like Social Security, Medicare, transportation trust funds, etc. It would be a lot more revealing.

Critics say these trust funds are just IOUs the government owes itself and are therefore just an "accounting artifacts". In actuality they are debts to the US citizens. They are just like any other debt except we can't stop lending.

Yes, Social Security needs to be adjusted to reflect reality as has been done in the past but that is comparatively simple. That leaves medical and military spending as the only practical targets.

Of course, there is another option. A rational income tax policy.

Posted by: gashmore | February 18, 2011 6:52 AM | Report abuse

As fellow blogger kenzimmerman suggests, Secretary Gates, Congress and the President need to cut more from DoD for example:
Since the Chinese can blow them out of the water now with their Dong Feng 21D missile, reduce the number of carriers to eight and reduce naval air wings to seven. Save $43 billion thru 2020. Continue building CVN78 – Cancel CVN79 and beyond.
Build and operate fewer tactical submarines (SSNs/SSGNs). Save $34 billion thru 2020. Current projections show the number of SSNs declining to 40 by 2028. We can reach 40 in 2020, eight years earlier, by slowing the rate of procurement to one per year (instead of the proposed two). Additional savings from reductions in personnel would be $1.5 billion.
Cancel the Maritime Prepositioning Force (Future). Save $17 billion. The Navy would maintain sufficient Marine supply ships overseas and, if deemed absolutely necessary, it could lease ships (instead of procuring) as it has in the past.
Terminate the V-22 Osprey. Save about $15 billion thru 2020. Cancel the troubled V-22 Osprey program and save the $23 billion needed to finish procurement.
Reform the calculation of military compensation and restructure health care benefits. Save close to $115 billion thru 2020.
Reduce expenditures on Command, Support, and Infrastructure by $100 billion thru 2020.
Build and operate fewer Air Force fighters. Save about $89 billion thru 2020. Eliminate six fighter air wing equivalents (AWE). Accomplish this drawdown by accelerating the retirement of aging airframes and purchasing 301 fewer F-35s than currently programmed. Estimated cost per new aircraft is $200 million, which translates into $60 billion in reduced procurement expenses, and $29 billion in reduced personnel and O&M expenses.

Posted by: AegirC | February 18, 2011 8:33 AM | Report abuse

I'm surprised we haven't heard more about agriculture subsidies, grazing fees, etc. Agribusiness is receiving tens of billions from the taxpayer each year.

It isn't going to solve the problem but eliminating ALL agriculture subsidies would be a nice first step

Posted by: Anonymous | February 18, 2011 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Not a pretty picture!

"We" are going to HAVE to GET OUT of the "business" of operating a far-flung de facto militaristic and "Corporate culture" EMPIRE all over the world! WE SIMPLY CAN'T AFFORD to endlessly garrison Germany, Japan, Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan ...

This nation is AGING, and "our" OWN "easy" raw oil supply IS RUNNING OUT. (What remains is VERY EXPENSIVE TO 'PRODUCE' --- and the sheer COST IN "wealth" alone --- not to mention the very LIVES of millions of people --- e.g. ~1 million DEAD OUTRIGHT in "Iraq", including ~6000 or so of "our" own and an ENDLESS DRAIN in the form of "our" own military MEDICAL CARE FOR THE PERMANENTLY DISABLED, and other "benefits", ONGOING FOR THE NEXT CENTURY!)
THE COST OF ATTEMPTING TO "CONTROL" (actually, read "expropriate") the resources of OTHERS is SIMPLY PROHIBITIVE!

THIS NATION IS NOW AGING! "We" need to direct "our" own very FINITE resources TO MEETING "OUR" OWN ACTUAL NEEDS!

The current MUCH BELATED GRANDSTANDING by the current crop of CONGRESSIONAL BOZOS would be absolutely COMICAL if the situation weren't so GENUINELY SERIOUS! But the likes of Boehner, McConnell, Graham,... and their ilk --- who now try to pass themselves off as the supposedly upright, responsible "lords of fiscal probity, responsibility, and discipline" are now very much in the position of having to attempt the IMPOSSIBLE task of COVERING UP for the gross IRresponsibility of ex-"King" Georgie and his Crackpot Cabal of NeoConMen --- and ALSO for THEIR OWN previous misdeeds in having SUPPORTED the "initiative" that was "undertaken" by THOSE birds!

Maybe it would be just as well to go ahead and DECLARE NATIONAL BANKRUPTCY NOW ALREADY(!), and START OVER AGAIN --- but NEXT TIME ACTUALLY GETTING IT RIGHT, AND NOT BUILDING UP A MOUNTAIN OF PROMISSORY OBLIGATIONS THAT CANNOT POSSIBLY EVER ACTUALLY BE HONORED!!

Posted by: Anonymous | February 18, 2011 10:59 AM | Report abuse

The President's budget doesn't pass the straight face test. When Obama referred to the "Lowest Sh**", it was a freudian slip. For a moment he was telling us what he really thought about it.

I'm not sure people realize the significance of getting our financial house in order. Defaults would put virtually every American's retirement at risk - not just government workers. Every retirement investment portfolio would be devastated by government default.

Think about it, would you rather PBS lose five percent of it's funding or have your retirement jeapardized? It's time to get both penny wise and pound wise with our federal and state budgets before it's too late.

Posted by: bradbenson2007 | February 18, 2011 11:03 AM | Report abuse

The Republicans aren't just against spending, they're against revenue.

This should be the new campaign slogan for the Republicans in 2012: "I'm with Stupid" right next to the face of the candidate that wins their nomination.

There we were, with a fiscal crisis & economic downturn in 2008 that foretold a depression. Over 500,000 jobs were lost in one month alone in December 2008. The last quarter of 2008 was a complete disaster, and we were in an economic freefall.

2008 brought us the 1st stimulus package, which John Boehner helped to write. 169 Republicans voted for it, with only 25 against - despite the fact that it was so poorly written it facilitated Wall Street doling out bonuses. Why did they agree to it? Because, during the Bush term, they were willing to admit there was a necessity for a stimulus, for spending.

What changed their mind in 2009? A Democratic President, whom they've treated since as if he's their janitor.

After the fiscal crisis, we saw our economy improve, and that was no thanks to the Republicans.

Were the Republicans willing to have rational discussions about getting our country out of a crisis?

HELL NO THEY WEREN'T.

Not only did they try to pin this crisis on the back of President Obama - WHO INHERITED IT - and claim he was not cleaning up their mess fast enough - yes their mess* - they claimed he was not even a constitutional law expert and started referring to everything THEY did as American in an attempt to differentiate themselves. They wanted to imply that he was unAmerican.

Another really stupid move.

*Gramm= Republican.
*Bleach= Republican.
*Bliley= Republican.

Here is how they successfully differentiated themselves:

They were the ham actors who showed every intention of polarizing our nation in the midst of a recession.

They evidently still are.

What have they done thus far? They tried to get another 10 years of Bush tax cuts by strongarming the President, threatening to stop unemployment benefits for the middle class. What they got was a two-year extension. A two year extension that added up to this: LOST REVENUE. An minus sign for the deficit.

But worse, no jobs are going to trickle down from this. They didn't during Bush's 8 years in office, and they aren't going to now. It was a hamfisted misadventure on the part of a bunch of inept, John Birch society lunatics that have taken

And btw, cutting taxes while they got their oil wars on was REALLY STUPID.

They are against spending, and evidently they are also against revenues.

Are they willing to cut defense spending?

Hell no they aren't.

Are they willing to curtail some of the billions spent on corporate welfare - like subsidizing the oil industry which already makes money hand over fist.

Nope.

Do they want to stop rewarding companies that ship our jobs overseas?

Nope.

The only "mandate" resulting from the mid-terms was for them to bring jobs. They've made a mockery of this - they even make a mockery of their own

Posted by: Anonymous | February 18, 2011 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Anyone bother to mention that we lowered our income (revenues) with the Bush tax cuts while he was increasing the deficit by starting two wars?
At no time in our history have we fought a war and cut taxes, until then.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 18, 2011 12:02 PM | Report abuse

So Maddoff was right after all.

He just modeled his Ponzi scheme on the government's scheme that began with Greenspan & Reagan's hike of Social Security payments, justifying it with the promise of building up a Social Security nest egg for subsequent decades, then using up that nest egg on then current government spending.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 18, 2011 1:00 PM | Report abuse

All 150,000,000 American wage earners can start paying an annual defense/war tax of $5,966 per person to pay for 2011 $895 Defense and war spending (most of which goes to Southern GOP states). That's what's needed right now to pay the bill....and to think some people want to lower taxes on the wealthy and keep borrowing to pay for the wars and defense needs America already has. What a joke.

2011 Total USA Defense Spending = $895 Billion ($785 Billion plus the $110 Billion for wars in Afghanistan and Iraq = 34.8% of $2.57 Trillion in revenues), all of which is borrowed deficit spending.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/politics/budget-2010/

Despite this; Millionaires and Billionaires paid $0.00 in estate taxes in 2010 while thousands of American men and women suffered casualties in the Middle East.

If the GOP cared about defense, they would raise taxes to pay for it, especially since Southern GOP states are getting the most money from defense spending.

Posted by: Airborne82 | February 18, 2011 1:58 PM | Report abuse

McConnell, Boehner and Tea “Oil & Coal” Party Bachmann only care only about conserving the income of Billionaires and nothing about America’s infrastructure, jobs, education, public safety, energy independence and middle and lower income families. GOP job number #1 is make sure Billionaires do not contribute more to paying for national defense and public safety. They get $125 Billion in extra tax breaks over two years while the military borrows $895 Billion/year from China and others for 2011 expenses (make that $1.4 Trillion for 2011 & 2012, which is roughly $12,000 for each and every American wage earner). Exclaiming “we’re Broke” while giving Billions in tax subsidies to the already filthy rich is more…to quote congressman Boehner….”Chicken crap”.

Boehner wants to cut 650,000 Public Safety federal American jobs, and 325,000 support jobs and waste $3 Billion taxpayer dollars for an alternative F-35 engine which the Pentagon does not want or need to save 7,000 jobs in Ohio. Typical GOP bang-for-the-buck scenario: kill 975,000 jobs to save 7,000 in their home coal polluting district.

The majority of federal workers hired since 9-11 have been for national defense, justice and homeland security. If the GOP cared about defense, they would raise taxes to pay for it and stop looking for a free ride on deficit spending, especially since Southern GOP states are getting the most money from defense spending.

Posted by: Airborne82 | February 18, 2011 2:08 PM | Report abuse

So a few things come to mind -- first, the need to address social security. It seems here that approaches here are not likely to reduce near term expenditures (the entire discussion about this has been about changes to affect folks under the age of 55), but rather to work on revenues (increase the top end for social security tax, perhaps tweak the rate). As age eligibility gets changed that will help longer term.

Regarding interest payments -- well that's not going to be helped much unless, in addition to cuts that are not really projected or planned by Republicans, revenues also need to be increased.

As to new and potentially big cuts -- particularly areas such as farm subsidies and defense (things that Republicans have yet to place on the table) -- need to come into bipartisan focus (assuming both parties in Congress are serious about budget cuts).

On the revenue side, this assumes that both parties are serious about budget balancing, there is a need to look at sources -- retaining the tax cut for millionaires should really be rethought. Also, dealing with the vast range of lobbied tax shelters makes a lot of sense as a revenue source without attacking tax rates. Some excise tax areas make sense as well (alcohol, gas, cigarettes, guns, munitions).

Let's face it, the deficit is a very real problem, it needs very real commitment to solve it and that commitment means expense cuts and revenue increases.

Will that happen? Probably not, neither party is really serious about budget governance.

Posted by: Barry8 | February 18, 2011 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and regarding the Medicare issue -- let's consider a Republican approved approach from the great state of Arizona -- *death panels* which have already been put in place for Medicaid here. And, if you can't afford Medicaid or Medicare -- well, you can die early -- heck, that is a double win, folks on Medicare who die earlier reduce the hit to Social Security as well.

Posted by: Barry8 | February 18, 2011 2:24 PM | Report abuse

This chart is very misleading and is the result of idiocy or a deliberate lie. For three reasons:

1)Social Security has its own revenue stream and should be considered separately from the general fund. The program is solvent for at least 25 years, and changes to it are IRRELEVANT to the current deficit. So either your're ignorant and don't understand this, or you want to cut Social Security for some other reason.

2) Considering spending apart from revenue is a fool's game. The government, moreso than individuals, can choose to increase revenue. By looking at spending only, you are either ignorant of this fact, or you dismiss revenue out of hand because you religiously believe in tax cuts. In other words, you are immune to fact-based discussion. Like the "crisis" in Wisconsin, this has been brought on largely by Republican tax cuts which haven't done bupkis to improve the economy.

3) Finally, for a truly informed discussion, one should look at spending AND revenue as a portion of GDP, which will help frame the discussion in relative terms, rather than absolute. I'm convinced that many older people think they're being taxed more because their total taxes have gone up in then-year dollars, as their incomes have grown. Whereas in the real world, tax rates have come down.

So, Ariana Eunjung Cha, stop regurgitating Republican talking points, and start doing some real journalistic work.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 18, 2011 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Why can't anyone talk about the comprehensive picture of deficit spending PLUS the accumulated debt. The reality is we've been living a lie knowing that taxes for entitlements would never balance to the payouts. The entire country needs to bite the bullet and pay for the last 20 years of wars and bloated excess to cure the operating budget imbalances. How about a temporary national sales tax for that. Update the federal payroll tax rates based on contemporary actuarial estimates of the longer life expectancies. Balance that with a reasonable adjustment to the retirement age for everyone over 35. And pass a constitutional amendment limiting federal deficit spending to nominal annual overages of 5-10% except in times of war and require any accumulations of debt to be paid back within 10 years. And for dos sake change the budget to a biannual event in the years between elections.

Posted by: mgway1 | February 18, 2011 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Defense spending is about 8% of GDP but 35% of federal revenue because taxes are too low. Taxes are at the lowest point since the 1950's but most people don't know it because the burden falls on the few while most get out of paying their tax bracket. Simplify the tax code and eliminate all the loopholes to increase revenue. Everyone's SS tax can be lowered from 6.2% to 4% by raising the taxable income limit.

End the $$Billions$$ of Coal Industry Tax subsidies.

The Coal industry gets Billions in taxpayer subsidies for mining coal (manufacturing deduction for hard mineral fossil fuels), the expensing of exploration costs and freedom to pollute air and water resources.

Ordinary taxpayers are the ones who have to make up the difference by paying 20~30% of their salary in taxes to offset Billions in explorations tax subsidies for wealthy coal companies who lavish their investors with profits built on their ability to pollute at public expense.

Massey Energy, paid an average of 5.6 percent of its profits in federal income taxes over the last three years, despite large profits (1/6th of federal 35% rate).

http://www.wvpolicy.org/downloads/news_releases/NR041510.pdf

A recent Harvard study “Full cost accounting for the life cycle of coal” found that the lifecycle of coal coast Americans $300~500 Billion a year (17.8cents/KWh).

Harvard Study Estimates Coal Power Has $300 to $500 Billion in Hidden Costs

http://www.energyboom.com/yes/harvard-study-estimates-coal-power-has-300-500-billion-hidden-costs

“A new study from Harvard University has found that when the entire life-cycle of coal is considered -- extraction, transport, processing, and combustion -- it poses significant public health and environment hazards. Cumulatively, the study estimates these hazards cost the American people roughly US$300 to US$500 billion dollars annually.”

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/02/16/usa-coal-study-idUSN1628366220110216

“costs the economy about $345 billion a year in hidden expenses not borne by miners or utilities, including health problems in mining communities and pollution around power plants…elevated rates of cancer and other illnesses in coal-mining areas, environmental damage and...”

Posted by: Airborne82 | February 18, 2011 4:12 PM | Report abuse

New York Times had a much more informative interactive graph in which you could explore components of each. The "interactivity" of this graph was a cheap gadget. The trends in the four lines vs time are informative - but the rest was cheap, uninformative graphics tricks. Try again.

Posted by: jburnetti | February 19, 2011 6:47 AM | Report abuse

"All options should be on the table, not just spending cuts. Revenue has to increase too."

Sure. 50% of the population pays no income tax. I propose their income tax be raised to 10%.

You did say *all* the options, right?

Posted by: Ombudsman1 | February 19, 2011 7:09 AM | Report abuse

"How about a temporary national sales tax for that"

Nice idea, however, it won't be temporary, and everybody knows that.

Let me tell you a true story. When I was a kid, there was a federal excise tax on tires. It was put in place during WWII (that's the 40's for those who didn't pay attention in school) as a temporary measure. This temporary measure was kept in place until 1982.

The government doesn't consider tax measure temporary, regardless of what you're told.

If we suddenly raised taxes by $1T, I guarantee you congress would spend all that money, and raise spending even faster. You know that, I know that, I suspect if you put Obama in a small room with a light bulb, he'd admit it too.

So the problem isn't really taxes or spending, its a lack of political will to balance the budget and pay off the debt. Congress and the President has no interest doing that; in fact, they'd argue that isn't really necessary.

We've got to get fiscal conservatives in congress and the oval office; we have had those in decades.

Posted by: Ombudsman1 | February 19, 2011 7:17 AM | Report abuse

Spending reductions are needed just as are increases in revenue. Discretionary programs historically take the most abuse during budget battles while entitlement programs and defense remain relatively untouched. The American public must be made to realize that it cannot have a "balanced" budget and budgetary sacred cows. Regarding the interactive graph...it's way too simple. It is so simple that it is almost meaningless. For example, it ignores population increase and the dynamic that brings. It ignores projected GNP and the relationship of expenditures to it. The graphic is so simple that it is almost misleading.

Posted by: Marc8 | February 19, 2011 8:09 AM | Report abuse

The Republicans are not concerned about the deficit, they are trying to gut the Great Society - where kids are educated for 21st century challenges and the most vulnerable are not abandoned. This is the mark of a civilization as opposed to a jungle.

No, if the Republicans were GENUINELY concerned about the deficit, they would not have extended the Bush tax cuts, which along with the wars, escalated the deficit. Let us remember that Bush inherited a surplus - thank you Democrats. They are being completely disingenous. The House proposal would reduce the deficit, true, while taking a whole lot of jobs away and thus prolonging the recession. Can someone please explain cause and effect to the House?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 19, 2011 8:14 AM | Report abuse

I don't understand why social security is even involved. Its the one program that is fully funded by dedicated tax dollars. It should be separated from the rest of the budget. The biggest mistake with the federal budget is that programs are approved without funding them with tax revenues. Real reform would be to require any new spending to be paid for by dedicated taxes.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 19, 2011 9:34 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: kev4 | February 17, 2011 11:04 AM

"We have to pay our bills, we can only do by cutting spending."
==============================================

When your in debt and running a deficit ... why would you cut revenue?

Would you tell your employer ... hey I'm getting by so cut my salary 50%.

I find it amazing that republicans have convinced 50% of Americans that taxes can't be raised on the top 20% because it will impact the top 2%.

Reagan's Director of the Office of Management and Budget David Stockman in an interview a couple of days ago said the solution is a Transaction Tax on Wall Street, I agree.
http://www.apttax.com/

As for Social Security read;

Robert Reich | Budget Baloney
Robert Reich | Wednesday 16 February 2011
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a Republican presidential hopeful, says in order to “save” Social Security the retirement age should be raised. The media are congratulating him for his putative “courage.” Deficit hawks are proclaiming Social Security one of the big entitlements that has to be cut in order to reduce the budget deficit.
This is all baloney.
In a former life I was a trustee of the Social Security trust fund. So let me set the record straight.
Social Security isn’t responsible for the federal deficit. Just the opposite. Until last year Social Security took in more payroll taxes than it paid out in benefits. It lent the surpluses to the rest of the government.
Now that Social Security has started to pay out more than it takes in, Social Security can simply collect what the rest of the government owes it. This will keep it fully solvent for the next 26 years.
But why should there even be a problem 26 years from now? Back in 1983, Alan Greenspan’s Social Security commission was supposed to have fixed the system for good – by gradually increasing payroll taxes and raising the retirement age. (Early boomers like me can start collecting full benefits at age 66; late boomers born after 1960 will have to wait until they’re 67.)
Greenspan’s commission must have failed to predict something. But what? It fairly accurately predicted how quickly the boomers would age. It had a pretty good idea of how fast the US economy would grow. While it underestimated how many immigrants would be coming into the United States, that’s no problem. To the contrary, most new immigrants are young and their payroll-tax contributions will far exceed what they draw from Social Security for decades.
So what did Greenspan’s commission fail to see coming?
Inequality.
At a time when it's often tough to tell the difference between the corporate news and its advertisements, it's essential to keep independent journalism strong. Support Truthout today by clicking here.
Remember, the Social Security payroll tax applies only to earnings up to a certain ceiling. (That ceiling is now $106,800.) The ceiling rises every year according to a formula roughly matching inflation.
: http://www.truth-out.org/robert-reich-budget-baloney-167874

Posted by: knjincvc | February 19, 2011 9:36 AM | Report abuse

Our current situation is analogous to that of a consumer buying too much with credit cards and making only the minimum payment, letting the outstanding balance grow to such an extent that even the minimum payments begin to constrain current spending and the creditor, realizing that the consumer cannot manage his or her finances, refuses to extend any more credit. It is imperative that we increase our payments immediately, along with restraining spending, but we will probably also have to increase taxes, unfortunately.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 19, 2011 9:40 AM | Report abuse

The reality is Defense spending is too high.
GDP has some correlation to receipts however it is not a realistic gage for the amount a country should spend on defense especially when they are spending more than they take in.
Congress needs to restore balance to discretionary spending and defense is two thirds of that pie.
There is plenty of waste within DoD. Due to the large supplementals, DoD Leaders have ignored doing the hard work of scrubbing requirements.
Retired Budget Soldier

Posted by: Anonymous | February 19, 2011 10:02 AM | Report abuse

This article doesn't seem to address the HUGE increase in government hiring since Obama's been in office...while private-sector unemployment soars. Obama has appointed many of his czars by bypassing the law where congressional say-so applies, and then those czars hired a bunch of *their* cronies...not exactly supportive of fair hiring! It simply got more crooks into office while honest Americans suffer from unemployment.

We DO need to cut spending. It's not the fault of most of America's unemployed their jobs went to China, Taiwan, etc., etc. It would be nice if some of the outsourcing moguls lost THEIR jobs for a change. For a few bucks, they've flushed American jobs and then bellyached about not making enough money. How childish, selfish, and moronic!

Union wages also played a large part in our jobs being outsourced, too. They unions *might* have served a useful purpose at one time (That's even questionable!), but they've ripped us off for too long. If we could get our industries back together without paying exorbitant unions wages, perhaps companies could survive and even profit well without outsourcing. I'm sick of supporting China, ESPECIALLY since their currency manipulation caused our economic crash!! Cut 'em off and get the jobs back into our own country. Reduce government so our factories won't be "over-regulated" to the point of bankruptcy. Obama's pushing for more trade with China is an underhanded way of giving our country to the control of a socialist nation...his primary goal in the first place.

We've had companies like GM mismanaged and then bailed out with OUR taxes. We should have let them go under and/or restructure on their own.

Social security is NOT a drain on the economy. In fact, those funds have been used by the government (without the permission of us citizens paying into SS) to get out of a few jams, and the gov. claims IT owns the money. Does anybody REALLY believe that it does? They need to get their collective heads out of their butts and their noses out of what's not theirs. Government is *supposed* to be working for US...not bossing us around and abusing our resources.

Another problem with today's American government is that they rush to cut whatever programs, jobs, etc., they themselves don't care for rather than what's good for America. This must stop. We need to curtail spending, reduce the size of the government and get jobs back into the private sector from oversees. I also strongly believe most of the tax loopholes for the rich should be eliminated. OUR country made them rich, and it's us they're stealing from in avoiding paying taxes. Perhaps it's time for the national sales tax to replace income tax. This way, if you spend a dollar, you pay taxes on a dollar; if you spend a million, you pay taxes on a million...period. The rich just aren't doing their part to support your country at this time. If they don't think the get rich enough while paying taxes, let 'em go elsewhere!

Posted by: Anonymous | February 19, 2011 10:31 AM | Report abuse

The Republic will survive without the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the National Endowment for the Arts. Cut them, if this is what it will take to say to the Republicans, "Okay, you've cut $200 billion in the deficit. Great. Now how about the other $1 trillion per year?"

Sometimes you have to take a step back in order to take more than one step forward. When these jackasses have to face up to their true resonsibilities, then they will start to become more moderate. Until then, they can just yammer about government waste and avoid decisions. So, give them what they want to placate their knuckle-headed consitutents and then perhaps the conversation can turn to more serious and meaningful reforms which both sides of the political spectrum have thus far avoided. Let them cut all the "waste" as they see it, if that's what it takes to get them and their right-wing voting base to face up to their responsibilites. Enough of the political games that are bankrupting the country.

Posted by: armyofone | February 19, 2011 11:02 AM | Report abuse

SLASH DEFENSE SPENDING, THIS IS THE FORTH LEG OF THE DEFICIT THAT NOBODY WANTS TO TOUCH.

WE DO NOT NEED THESE GIANT ARMIES NOW, NUKES (HORRIBLE AS THEY ARE) MAKE MASSIVE CONVENTIONAL FORCES USELESS.

THE DEFENSE BUDGET IS WELFARE FOR GIANT CORPORATIONS PERIOD.

WAKE UP FOLKS.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 19, 2011 11:15 AM | Report abuse

SLASH DEFENSE SPENDING, THIS IS THE FORTH LEG OF THE DEFICIT THAT NOBODY WANTS TO TOUCH.

WE DO NOT NEED THESE GIANT ARMIES NOW, NUKES (HORRIBLE AS THEY ARE) MAKE MASSIVE CONVENTIONAL FORCES USELESS). LET THE CHINESE SPEND OUT THIER SURPLUS ON CONVENTIONAL ARMIES, (LIKE THE SOVIETS DID IN THE 1950=1970 PERIOD - WHO CARES).

THE DEFENSE BUDGET IS WELFARE FOR GIANT CORPORATIONS PERIOD.

WAKE UP FOLKS.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 19, 2011 11:18 AM | Report abuse

We shouldda got ridda the bush tax cuts in 2008.

Posted by: glenglish | February 19, 2011 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Your chart is terribly misleading.

Social Security is a fund....and that fund is not part of the general government budget. Stop including it in this kind of analysis...that is a Republican ploy to kill social security. It's a trust fund...not a yearly budget...PERIOD.

You have dramatically understated military spending...it is much higher than $ 900 B.
Use this chart instead of what you have created:

Here is the truth on REAL military spending:
http://www.warresisters.org/pages/piechart.htm

Posted by: go2goal | February 19, 2011 2:17 PM | Report abuse

This is a down payment on our Nations future and prosperity. Hopefully, it will still be sizable reduction in spending when the House and Senate conference are completed. There are so many Federal programs that are nothing but a waste of taxpayer money. With maintaining the current income tax rates, lower corporate tax rates and spending cuts the economy will grow, produce jobs and increase revenue for both Federal and state governments. Hopefully, the tax code simplification will be next along with shrinking the size and scope of the Federal government.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 19, 2011 2:21 PM | Report abuse

This graphic suggests Medicaid stops in 2010. I didn't know that! ???

Posted by: DrVelocity | February 19, 2011 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Just go back to the tax rates of the 1950's. The budget will be in the black.

Posted by: Martial | February 19, 2011 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Like many others my age, I say don't cut Social Security. Most seniors have not have had enough time to build up equity and rely on their Social Security. If it's needs to be cut, should be grandfathered in.
EGK

Posted by: Anonymous | February 19, 2011 7:52 PM | Report abuse

Yes cuts must be made, but contrary to Republican propaganda US taxpayers are not heavily taxed. We pay a smaller percentage of taxes-Federal, state and local combined- than 28 of the other top 32 countries in the world. The wealthy are paying a smaller percentage in taxes than they have for many decades. We need to end all the Bush tax cuts and concentrate on getting people back to work.
Spending has skyrocketed mostly because of the Republican caused deep recession. We have had to spent more to keep from falling into a depression. This spending has kept unemployment much lower than it would have been otherwise. Many economists say it could have gone to 16 percent without the stimulus spending. At the same time revenue has plummeted because of the decline in economic activity.
The Republican response in the House is a partisan attack on programs they would like to gut no matter where the economy is-planned parenthood and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting are 2 good examples.The steep cuts they are calling for will cause a new round of layoffs- as many as 180,000 workers according to some figures I have read.The impact on the deficit will be minimal since newly unemployed workers will start drawing unemployment compensation and even without that the cuts are a very small part of the projected deficit this year.
Real cutting needs to be done in health care expenses. We can no longer afford to spend nearly 17% of our GDP on health. European countries spend no more than 11% and have systems that serve their people better than ours does.The recent health care reform needs to be followed with new ways to cut costs while serving people better and more equitably.
The days of getting elected by cutting taxes and increasing deficits that began with Reagan should come to an end as the American people demand that politicians pay for the programs they pass. Borrow and spend can't continue.It takes spine to tax and spend because a politician is asking the recipients of government largess to be willing to pay for what they get.That is something the Republicans haven't been willing to do for the last 30 years.
It is time to make hard choices especially with Medicare and Social Security. Cutting planned parenthood funding isn't making a hard choice. It is making a partisan choice and will do little to solve our short, medium and long term financial problems.

Posted by: vghost | February 19, 2011 9:49 PM | Report abuse

Fix Medicare and Medicaid. Stop funding the Middle East Wars. Cut defense spending in half.

That should solve the problem for a while.

Posted by: John991 | February 19, 2011 10:04 PM | Report abuse

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