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babsbunny Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 06:23 PM
Original message
White House website lying about your taxes

by David Swanson
April 24, 2011
The White House has a handy website to mislead you about your tax dollars at Tax Receipt.
It claims that only 26.3% goes to "National Defense." This is similar to the claim in the 1040EZ US income tax form booklet (see pages 36-37). Here are those two pages in a PDF. There the claim is that the U.S. government only spends 22% of its money on "National defense, veterans, and foreign affairs." The form admits that you could leave out the "foreign affairs" part and still be at 21%.

The White House website claims to calculate both veterans' expenses and foreign affairs separately and still put "defense" alone at 26.3%.

However, take a look now at the pie chart created by the War Resisters League, which shows 51% of the budget going to the military.

21% and 26.3% and 51% aren't even close to each other. This is not "good enough for government work." This is our money. What gives?
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Wounded Bear Donating Member (665 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 06:28 PM
Response to Original message
1. Technicality......
Only about 55-60% of the budget is actually "paid for" with taxes. The rest is borrowed, so technically, only 20% or so of "your tax dollars" go to defense. Since they will say that 80% of defense is from the borrowed part.

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Warpy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 06:29 PM
Response to Original message
2. Raw Pentagon spending is usually separated from their "entitlement" spending
which means the VA system and military pensions. It's usually closer to 34.5% of the budget, far short of the 51% it is when the pensions and VA are added in, but still far too high for a supposedly peaceful country.

The Pentagon needs to go on a diet. 10% per year until we're in line with what other countries spend is not unreasonable and will give those generals time to come to grips with making some tough decisions: keep the resort bases with the best golf courses or keep the foreign bases that are useful as staging areas for both rescue and war; buy planes and ships a few Congressmen love or hold off and get some lower tech but more reliable stuff down the road.

They've needed to make these decisions for decades, but Pentagon culture often includes squandering budgets at the last minute in order to justify demanding more the following year. That has to end. We can't afford their appetites.
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elocs Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 06:29 PM
Response to Original message
3. I have right wing friends who believe that not only the website, but everything the White House says
are lies.
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Mimosa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 06:30 PM
Response to Original message
4. Talking head pundits never discuss the costs of these continuing wars
On TV they always talk about cutting social spending and never say that the cost of the wars are driving up the national debt. I noticed it on Meet the Press yesterday.
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muriel_volestrangler Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 06:36 PM
Response to Original message
5. Swanson eventually admits he's no idea where the 51% figure came from
And yet he still ends up claiming it as the 'real' figure. Which is pretty stupid of him.
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Igel Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 07:44 PM
Response to Reply #5
9. How can he not?
Even I do.

One set includes all military spending, and segregates part of the interest on the debt that was produced by military expenditures. All human resources and other spending that is military related--think GI Bill--are "military," as are VA expenses and anything intelligence related.

The other includes the total budget. Since FICA funds could be repurposed they're included as non-discretionary spending. So's Medicaid/Medicare.

A lot of people like having everything that bears the taint of military expenditure be dubbed "military." It maximizes the militaristic nature of the US, which is something they rather think should be done, while minimizing the amount spent on social needs--as though Social Security didn't count as social spending.

It makes for a nice argument: If you do it one way, we spend nearly as much on social spending as on the military; if you do it the other way, there's a huge military budget and a paucity of social spending. Which do you thin makes for a better political argument for more social spending?

What's odd is that a lot of people want to make the exact opposite argument when it comes to taxes: They don't want to segregate FICA/Medicare funding from federal income tax, because then it would seem that well over 40% of American households don't contribute to the general budget, but to something that they view as an investment, something that demands being paid back (that's also a bit of nonsense, but that's also for another post).
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snot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 06:56 PM
Response to Original message
6. I'd like to see the War Resisters League's pie chart & how they got to their numbers.
Not that I doubt them; but why speculate when the facts should be available?
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muriel_volestrangler Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 07:24 PM
Response to Reply #6
7. Here's their pie chart

There are some guesses in there (eg they say $38 million for Afghanistan and Iraq in 2010 is unrealistic, and they call it $200 billion instead). They also say the amount paid in interest was ($390 billion / 80%) = $488 billion, or 18.4% of the total spending. That can be contrasted with the government explanation of their 7.4% net interest figure:

The government pays and collects interest in various ways. Its net interest outlays are equal to the interest it pays minus the interest it receives. Net interest outlays are dominated by the interest paid to holders of the debt that the Treasury issues to the public. Although the Treasury also issues debt to trust funds and other government accounts, the payment of interest to those accounts is an intragovernmental transaction that has no effect on net interest outlays or on the budget deficit.
Although the federal government has increased its net borrowing by more than $3 trillion in the past two years, net interest costs dropped from $253 billion in 2008 to $197 billion in 2010 because of remarkably low interest rates. The amounts of net interest shown in the budget include interest paid on all Treasury securities ($413 billion in 2010), minus the portion of that interest that is received by trust funds ($186 billion in 2010) and the net amount of other interest received by the government ($30 billion in 2010). The last category consists primarily of net receipts to the Treasury from the financing accounts for federal loan programs (those accounts are not included in the federal budget).

I must say, I think that net figure shouldn't be used here; interest paid to the 'lock box' of the SS/Medicare funds still seems to be an expenditure by the main budget. So while I can't see where the $488 billion came from, I think the figure should be 413-30=$383 billion.
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cali Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 07:31 PM
Response to Original message
8. typical Swanson. putting out bullshit in copious amounts is his thing.
51%? That is a bold faced lie. And it's Swanson, as usual, who's doing the lying.

I think we spend waaay too much on defense, but combating that by spreading ridiculous lies is no fucking help at all.

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