Apr 13, 2011
One of the biggest hurdles in talking about the federal budget is a sense of proportion. We argue about spending, yet most of the public lacks a clear sense of how the government actually spends its money. The argument leading up to the most recent budget deal shows that: the discussion was all about “non-defense discretionary spending,” which only accounts for a fraction of the budget.
This data visualization, put together by Allison Rizzolo and Katherine Fung of Public Agenda using IBM’s Many Eyes tool, shows what the budget really looked like in 2010. All told, the federal government spent $3.5 trillion, and two-thirds of its spending was in five areas: Social Security (20.4 percent), defense (19.27 percent), Medicare (13.1 percent), Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance (7.28 percent), and interest on the national debt (6.31 percent). A number of hotly debated functions each received less than 1 percent of spending, including higher education, agriculture, community and regional development, general government and general science, space and technology.
And of course, since the government only took in $2.2 trillion, that left a $1.3 trillion deficit.
You can also see the visualization at the Many Eyes site.