It’s that time of year.
When we curse politicians and how they’re spending our money.
Americans pay 10% to 35% of their income to Washington, D.C. — the more you earn, the more you pay. The average American household income is $50,000 (2008 U.S. Census); that income level pays 15% in federal taxes or the equivalent of $7,500 a year.
That’s a lot of money, and I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t prefer to pay less. We should be interested in how that money is being spent, but I saw a CNN report yesterday that shows we’re woefully uninformed.
Quick, what is the biggest expense in the federal budget?
No, not pork. It’s Medicare (health care for old people) and Medicaid (health care for low-income families and children) at 20.1% of the federal budget. Social Security is a separate expense at 20%.
Third biggest expense? No, not Obamacare. It’s national defense at 19.3%.
That means 60 cents of every dollar you pay in federal taxes is going to hospitals, doctors and drug companies to care for old people and poor people; defense contractors and soldiers.
When Tea Partiers talk about limiting the federal government, I hear them harping on international aid (actually 1.7% of the federal budget), food stamps (2.8%) and support for National Public Radio and public television (less than 0.1%).
If we cut those miniscule programs to zero, it was save the average American household about $345 a year.
Interested in how Washington is spending your tax money? There’s a great visual at http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget — click on “Explore the Budget.”
And while we’re talking politics, let’s look at the opportunities to earn that income. Wouldn’t you rather be employed and paying taxes than unemployed?
The unemployment rate went down to 8.8% in December, down from just over 10% in late 2009.The highest rate during my working career? Nearly 11% of workers were unemployed in 1983 under President Ronald Reagan. Lowest? Less than 4% in 2000 under President Bill Clinton.
While I’m not thrilled to be paying drug companies for all that ridiculous advertising or defense contractors to build better tanks, I am grateful to be employed and grateful that unemployment is dropping so more people can join me in complaining at tax time.