This is accurate but in a limited way, and it’s a good example of how graphics can lead to bias regardless of your political inclinations*. So what you see above is the 2012 federal budget for discretionary spending, which is very different from the actual 2012 federal budget.
The 2012 federal budget also contains something called mandatory spending, and in 2012 we’ll spend about $2.382 trillion in mandatory spending. Social security will cost us $761 million, and things like medicare and unemployment insurance will cost a lot as well. (For a good breakdown of the 2012 budget, go here.)
Republican leaders are being completely disingenuous when they pretend that eliminating the Department of Education (or any number of other federal departments) would significantly cut the budget deficit. But Democratic leaders are also being completely disingenuous when they act like the defense budget is the biggest budgetary challenge facing the U.S. (The notable exception here is the President, who actually acknowledges that serious budget reform will involve both cutting social programs and raising taxes, thereby making him popular with no one except me.)
I’ve been really disappointed in our national inability to have a grown-up conversation about the economy, unemployment, wage stagnation, small business growth, and the other hot-button topics of the past few months. To beat a dead horse, we all need to recognize the legitimacy of others’ narratives if we’re ever going to make progress, and part of that is acknowledging that most of the federal budget does, in fact, go to social programs. (As it does in every other country in the developed world.)
* Like, I think the U.S. spends way too much on defense, but it would be ludicrous to say that cutting defense spending could easily balance the budget. Also, quite a lot of defense spending goes into very popular programs, like providing health care for war veterans.
Let me try again, John. If you are indeed in favor of a balanced budget, I again point you toward Ron Paul who not only wants to cut out several departments but slash the military budget as well. I understand that for years he has just been crazy Uncle Ron but I urge you to look into how he plans to cut and what it entails such as:
1.) The cutting of several departments and moving some of their responsiblities to existing departments (so no not just getting rid of everything they cover).
2.) Ending the military occupation of other countries and US wars except as a final solution.
3.) Walk and Talk: Cutting his salary for his presidency to (somewhere in the neighborhood) 43k a year. Also he is one of only a very very select few to return part of his staff budget to the treasury each year.
4.) Opt ins/outs for things like SS. The ponzi scheme will slowly be phased out (though it will hurt until it is finished)
As a Libertarian, I do not agree with a great number of his ideas, and, yes, believe that some of them could even hurt us as a country. However, as a man of integrity, I at least know that he knows how to navigate DC and his policies will have supporters on both sides of the isles if not always at the same time. Likewise, experience tells us when you vote for him, you know what you are getting and there will be few if any surprises. As such, one might prepare support or defense against his policies, instead of crafting them on the fly from a candidate who is either lying the whole time, or so ignorant to how the government works he can make claims that can never be accomplished. Likewise, it’s nice to at least hear ideas and some meat on subjects instead of slogans like “Change” or “Balanced Budgets” or “Small Government”
On a related note. I’d like to congratulate Daniel Biss on his bid into the office of the Senate. I have kept up with his voting record and actions (as best as I’ve could) for the past two years and happy to see his name on that list.