Last week a cross section of the public were asked how much of the Federal Budget was used to subsidize NPR (National Public Radio) - in my view a public treasure that reports fairly on US and World happenings and has a veritable treasure trove of programs designed for every age and class of people. The average thought was 5%. They actually thought that 5% of the Federal Budget was used to subsidize Public Radio! The real figure is less than .01%.
I thought in view of this I would give a few figures that accurately reflect just how the Federal Budget is divided up.
The Military Budget is 54% of the entire Federal Budget! This figure is more than is listed on the budget because in the "Official" budget the amount spent on wars is not included in the Military budget. In other words the Federal Government does not include in the Military budget the money that is spent in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and probably a host of other wars that we are engaged in around the globe. It also does not include interest spent on the Military Debt, which is interesting because obviously if we did not spend so much on the Military we would not have any debt.
So, including those figures, the Military takes 54% of the entire US Federal Budget. Then there is 30% spent on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. This leaves 16% for EVERYTHING ELSE. By everything else I mean everything else the government spends. I will list just a VERY FEW things that are included on that list. Infrastructure - including roads, bridges etc, NASA - space exploration, The IRS, subsidies for the oil companies and agriculture and a host of other companies, the Courts, police, fire, the Treasury, the White House, Congress, The Senate, science, astronomy, PBS/NPR, all government regulatory departments, foreign aid - * (See note at bottom regarding foreign aid) and literally thousands of other federal departments.
So the 16% that covers everything except The Military, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid is the only part that Congress is willing to cut. The Military and The Entitlements are sacred cows that cannot be touched. Obviously there is not room there - in the 16%, even if every thing were cut by 25%, which would devastate most of the programs, we would only shave 4% off of the entire budget!
Not voting to continue the 4% Bush tax cuts to the rich would have covered all of the cuts, and more! (And the rich already pay only 16% of their incomes in taxes compared to the average Americans 30% in taxes!!) They would hardly have noticed it. Instead so that they can keep even more money and be even richer than they were, we all have to suffer. We have to put up with eviscerated libraries, NPR/PBS cuts, roads that need fixing, cuts to police, fire, cuts to science, medical research, and a thousand other things that make life easier or more enjoyable for the poor and the middle classes - just so that the already disgustingly rich can have even more!! Did you know that the richest 400 Americans have more than half of what all Americans have combined? Let me put another way - the richest 400 Americans have more wealth than 155 MILLION Americans COMBINED! Now that is greed beyond belief, an Income Gap never seen anywhere else ever. The gap now is wider, by far, than it has ever been.
OK lets make the rich richer, forget trying to make them pay their fair share. We could still get around the cuts, by cutting the Military budget by 4%. Surely they would hardly notice a 4% cut. Certainly not as much as we would notice cuts of 25% to 50% in some of the programs more important to us.
Or there is yet another way. Social Security, Soc, Sec. taxes are deducted from the earnings of everyone earning up to $107,000. That means that I and probably most of you reading this pay Social Security tax on all of your earnings. Why should it only be the lowest earners that pay it? If everyone paid Soc Sec Tax on ALL of their earnings, problem solved. I pay it on all of my income, you pay it on all of your income, why should Tiger Woods not pay it on all of his income ($100 million a year! For playing golf!) The US has been good to him - and to all the Billionaires out there, they should be happy to help out and contribute to the country that gave them their wealth.
If you think that is taking too much from them - boo hoo - reduce the overall rate, I think it is 6% now, cut it to 5% or 4%, but deduct it from 100% of every ones earnings. (Then you and I would pay less!) Make it a rate that would take care of Soc Sec, and maybe Medicare and Medicaid for years to come.
We could also raise the retirement age, slowly, when Soc Sec was started, 65 was the age that most people started dying at! Now we live into our 80's and even 90's. If the retirement age were raised to 70, over a period of years - say increase it by 2 months every year, that would help tremendously.
Maybe a combination of the several suggested solutions? Or implement them all and pay off the National Debt. As President Clinton had planned! I think under his plan, it would have been almost down to zero by now! You may remember that Clinton left office with a surplus! Has that ever happened before? I'm not sure. Anyway, George Bush gave it away, remember? He said elect me and I will send everyone %600. He just barely got into office even with that offer! He sent out the checks and that was the end of any chance of getting rid of the National Debt. (I was thinking I might run for office and say "I will send $5,000 to everyone if you elect me." Do you think I would get in?)
There are other areas where money can and should be taken to pay for the running of the country. Boeing Company had a pretax profit of 10 Billion dollars from 2008 to 2010. During those three years they paid NO federal taxes! (They were recently given a 35 Billion contract to build planes for the Federal government. A nice reward for paying no tax!)
G.E. 2006 to 2010 $26.3 Billion pretax profit. Tax rate? Negative 15.8% - they got a REFUND of $4.2 Billion - after paying NO taxes! GE has more employees abroad than in the US! Their pretax profit abroad? $67.7 Billion - on which they paid tax, at the rate of 19.6%. Put another way, they get a REFUND in the US on their earnings. They pay TAX abroad on their earnings! Oh by the way they cut 20% of their work force in the US - and sent the jobs abroad! This IS a US company - I think. More greed!
* I promised to tell you about US foreign Aid. A lot of people think if we did not send aid abroad we could balance our budget. Not so.
It is a minuscule amount, especially compared to what most other countries in the world give - we are 22nd on the list of 22 richest countries in government aid to other countries as a percentage of our GDP (Gross Domestic Product.) The countries of The United Nations agreed on a figure of .7% of the GDP of the 22 wealthiest nations. Denmark gives the most with 1.1% of its GDP, most of the Scandinavian Countries give around 1%, The US gives .1%! (To repeat, one tenth of 1%, the lowest of the 22 richest countries.) And most of our foreign aid goes to places like, Israel, Egypt, Pakistan etc! Almost all of it is military aid. The little bit that goes to countries that really need help, like starving African Nations get what is called "Tied Aid" which means they have to use the money to buy from the US. This would seem to make sense until you realize that if a starving African Nation has to buy food from the US it's own farmers are not helped at all - they could work, grow food and sell it to their own government, but that is not allowed, their government must use the aid money to buy only from the US. So the "Help" is no help at all to the citizens. 90% of US aid is "Tied", The UK and Norway "Ties' 10%. Also, of the Foreign aid that the US sends, 80% of it goes to American Companies in those countries!
So, to sum up, stopping foreign aid would do nothing to help our budget woes. It is only .1% of our GDP, almost all of it is military aid to Israel, Egypt, Pakistan etc - not really what foreign aid was intended for, which was to help poverty stricken countries. What does go to countries in that category is "Tied" - it must be used to buy from the US, which hurts their economies not helps them. And finally 80% of the money goes to American companies in those countries anyway. You don't hear about these things here because US news is about the US. If anything is reported about non-US things it tells how it affects the US. European news, tries to give news about the whole world.
Sorry, if I sound bitter or anti-US, but I am telling it the way it is. And it is getting worse. Congress will cut and cut and cut, and they will be angry because it doesn't matter how much they cut they will be almost completely unable to affect the budget. Because they cannot touch the sacred cows of the Military, Soc Sec etc which represents 84% of the budget!! They will eviscerate everything that makes life worthwhile for many people and only be able to reduce the huge budget deficits by tiny amounts - even after crowing how they cut WICK, PELL, and goodness knows what else by huge amounts, they will have to admit that they have barely affected it at all. And then they will blame their idiocy on "Someone else".
Then they will continue to serve the Rich. That is what Congress and the Senate does, in case you hadn't noticed! They serve the Rich, they have no interest whatsover in anyone else, their entire reason for living is to make the Rich richer. Because of this the Rich throw crumbs to them when it is time for them, the Politicians, to retire, with just 100% of their salary for life and the best medical care money (our money) can buy! (Even if they only serve one term they get this incredible package!)
Enough already, I am so upset by our "Pile of Shitens", sorry Politicians, that I can barely see straight. Night, night.