Making sense of it all

So the headlines the past couple of days have included gems like “proposed 2011 budget reaches $3.5 trillion” and “record deficit expected this year.” Not to mention multiple calls to replace the dollar as the world’s reserve currency (again, I’m sure there’s no relation…).

These literally astronomical numbers just make everyone’s eyes glaze over. Where in the world do you put 3.5 trillion dollars? The New York Times provides some help with this question:

Clicking on the link will take you to the NY Times’ page, where the graphic is interactive and has additional information. Some things that stand out:

– National Defense is the target everyone loves to aim at. And no doubt we spend too much, because we meddle in the world too much. But a little perspective: we spend as much on Social Security as we do defense. The latter is a specific charge under the Constitution. The former isn’t mentioned at all.

– Compare just the Operations and Maintenance portion of Defense with interest on the national debt… they’re nearly equal. Perhaps that puts in context remarks by senior military leaders about the debt being a national security issue!

– I defy anyone to find a citation in the Constitution, or any of the writings of the Founding Fathers, that would justify the aid spending listed under “Income Security.” And no, the ‘general welfare’ clause in the Preamble, or the ‘necessary and proper‘ clause don’t cut it.

– I find it interesting that military retirements are included in “Income Security,” right next to a block in Veteran’s Benefits that includes pensions. Double counting?

– The slice of Medicare that’s the prescription drug benefit is a rather large looking one in this graphic. Considering how recently this “entitlement” was created, in the face of already record deficits, this is simply an example of the many self-inflicted budgetary sucking chest wounds we’ve sustained.

Finally, just for giggles, consider this… for the sake of argument, let’s leave Social Security alone, since workers have paid into the system and it’s the proverbial “third rail.” If the Federal Government stopped its unConstitutional programming in the areas of Medicare, “Income Security,” and Health (tangent: why does the Fed give “block grants” to the States, when the States could, if they chose to have the program, tax their residents directly?), the budget would be reduced by $1.4 trillion — or, roughly the amount of the deficit.

Man… following the Constitution just looks wiser all the time, doesn’t it??

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