If The US Government Were The Average Household, What Would Its Budget Be?

If the government made $1,000 a week (about the median household income in the US) what would its budget look like? MSNBC took last year’s budget and calculated the “household” budget of the US Government. Here it is:

Health Care: $219.40
Social Security: $206.60
Military: $196.50
Income Security (Unemployment insurance, food and housing, retirement for federal workers, etc): $132.70
Interest on Debt (The US Government’s Version of Credit Card Payments): $85.30
Transportation: $26.50
Colleges: $19.00
Federal disaster relief and insurance spending: $17.40
Administration of justice: $15.40
Public Schools K-12: $15.00
The Environment: $12.40
Agriculture: $9.80
General government costs: $6.90
International development and humanitarian assistance: $6.30
Social services related to education and training: $6.20
Space Program: $5.50
General science and basic research:$3.40
Community and regional development: $3.20
Workers training programs:$2.70

Look like your budget? —MEGHANN MARCO

Where do my income tax dollars go? [MSNBC]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Buran says:

    And yet, as a space geek (research what my username means, for example) I still encounter hostilities from people who tell me that my passion is a huge money sink and should be cancelled entirely. These are often the same people who are making noise about military spending and waste, even after things like the Halliburton scandals.

    Yeah. Compare that tiny green wedge to that huge fat one. And you still whine?

    They’re a bunch of whiny idiots who have to feel superior over things they don’t understand, I guess. (and they don’t. I can tell).

  2. Falconfire says:

    And people really wonder why so much of your property taxes goes to education…. Even worse, people think that the state does a good job of footing the bill when most states are even worse than the federal government.

  3. aiken says:

    Of course, this chart isn’t actually “if the government *made* $1k/week”… it’s “if the government *spent* $1k/week.” The deficit is about 2% of income, so this reflects an income of $980.

    Not a huge difference, of course… until you consider that our family is $175K in debt — about three times our income. And this is much more analogous to credit card debt than mortgage debt — it’s not like, if we paid it off tomorrow, we’d be any richer in assets.

    Looking at it that way, it’s ridiculous that we’re continuing to pile up any debt, even if it is just $20/week.

  4. NoneMoreBlack says:

    Possibly one of the least informative…well anythings, let alone graphs, I have ever seen. How many times are people going to rehash the cutting-up-a-dollar-bill analogy for government expenditures? Is looking at a few hard numbers so difficult?

  5. kostia says:

    Not much of a typical household budget when there isn’t a third labeled “mortgage” or “rent.”

  6. NeoteriX says:

    $85.30 of interest on debt huh? Someone needs to send Uncle Sam all those postings about the problems of keeping a balance on your credit card.

  7. arcticJKL says:

    Of course I EARN the money for my budget.

  8. Falconfire says:

    @NoneMoreBlack: When for most people, the size of our debt is more money than they can even comprehend even after looking at Bill Gates, and Donald Trump, and when the average salary is something like 20-30k, then Yes, for the average citizen making 6-7 bucks a week seeing hard numbers really IS hard for them to comprehend.

  9. Falconfire says:

    ment 6-7 a hour.

  10. landsnark says:

    @Buran: Word up. I’m a scientist myself (biology), and it always amazes me the hostility that some lay people have toward funding of science and technology. I know they probably don’t know most of the great things science has given them, but they *must* be vaguely aware of things like medical advances and things they plug in at home. Still, the promise of even greater things in the future doesn’t seem like a good investment to them. :(

  11. battlerobo says:


    I’d like to point out the Budget Graph again…
    It actually takes the numbers from the President’s budget request, which has to be approved by Congress, and puts them into this sweet looking graph.

  12. NoneMoreBlack says:

    @Falconfire: Frankly, I find that comment to be somewhat belittling and elitist. First, the average income, depending on how you calculate it (mean wage, median income, GDP/capita, etc), is around $40k. Second, the idea that “the average citizen” as defined by their income is somehow unable to comprehend numbers is, well, belittling and elitist. Get a reality check.

    Besides, this graph hardly even mentions anything about debt, so the supposedly incomprehensible size thereof is not even the issue here.

  13. JuliusJefferson says:


    Especially considering that since America’s manufacturing power is way below many other countries, technology is one of our only big commercial investments.

    This also goes hand-in-hand with educational spending, especially in the science/math/engineering/medicine education.

  14. mibi says:

    reductionist graphs like this do a poor job on the complexity of the federal government/budget. I second battlerobo on http://www.thebudgetgraph.com, its a great resource.

  15. eross says:

    These numbers grossly distort the picture. Military spending is about double the portion of federal spending that’s represented here. The real cost is hidden by burying parts of it in NASA, entitlements, medical care, etc.

  16. John David says:

    The graph is misleading in that it lumps together Social Security–which is paid out of the money that workers have paid into it–and discretionary spending from tax income (and massive borrowing). When you take into account the fact that much of that interest is on loans taken out to pay for war after war, about half of your income tax dollars are used to pay for death and destruction.

  17. asherchang says:

    How does the US manage to spend that much on the military, yet have soldiers still needing things like armor for their vehicles?

  18. karlyguy says:

    So where does FBI + CIA fit? under military or everything else?
    that category of ‘everything else’ is very large… maybe its the wasteful spending of a massive beaurocracy.

  19. karla_homolka says:

    What I look for from my tax dollars is RETURN ON INVESTMENT. I’d be willing to pay MORE tax (and I’m paying AMT now) if I saw a good ROI… but I don’t.
    1. I don’t go to the doctor, and even if I did I’m under a private plan.
    2. I don’t collect Social Security (and according to the rumors about our debt load I never will).
    3. Our military spending creates a lot of whizband stuff I see on the TV show ‘Future Weapons’… but it appears it is incapable of defending our nation (e.g. illegal aliens, WTC, Vietnam, etc.)… we need ‘cost effective’ defense.
    4. The space program looks neat… but MEN in space??? c’mon… robots do a better job! and at a much lower cost.
    5. public schooling??? privatize it… illegal aliens would shun our nation if they had to pay $10K/yr/child to educate the maggots they drag in with them!
    6. foreign aid??? we went to help Iraq and look at the mess we are in… if a country has problems (e.g. Darfur) let them fix their own problems… freedom must be earned not given.

    In conclusion… cut taxes by 75%… cut government spending by 75%… cut government employees by 75% … I know how to spend my money better than my congressman or senators… ya know why? because I earned it!