Wednesday, November 16, 2011

What is non-defense discretionary spending?

Ezra likes to say that the federal government is mostly an insurance company with an army.--SS

What is non-defense discretionary spending?:

“I estimate that out of the total nondefense domestic discretionary spending in 2012, 44 percent was for competitiveness purposes (mostly education, training, and transportation), another 12 percent was for low-income programs, 13 percent was for public safety and disaster relief, and 11 percent was for veterans. The remainder totals about $145 billion. That $145 billion may sound like a lot of money (and it is) but it is only 4 percent of total federal spending...most of it is what I would call ‘overhead’—salaries and office space for the people who run the government, administer the laws, promulgate and enforce the regulations, prepare Social Security checks, monitor fraud, respond to Congressional and citizen requests, and so forth. Even relatively efficient organizations have overhead rates that are as high or higher than 4 percent.” -- Isabelle Sawhill peers deep into the part of the budget that politicians love to cut. Here’s David Leonhardt on the same topic. Here’s an interactive graphic.

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