Here’s an informative slideshow that breaks down how your tax dollars are spent (spoiler alert: nearly half goes to the military). [CNBC]


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  1. ConsumptionJunkie says:

    Over 40% goes to the wasteful, bloated military. Why don’t the leading presidential candidates put this issue on the table?

  2. costanza007 says:

    they always fail to mention how much of a burden the entitlement programs actually are. they did have medicare in there, but didn’t mention social security, which would scale the “military” number down.

    don’t believe everything you read on the internets.

  3. hi says:

    @costanza007: exactly why I’m not beleiving your post.

  4. squidbrain says:

    Wasteful, bloated military. Haha, like the rest of the government is slim and trim. funny.

  5. Poshua says:

    This overstates the military percentage because it only looks at income tax and excludes payroll tax.

  6. fuzzymuffins says:

    that had to be the dumbest presentation. a pie chart would have suited better.

  7. squidbrain says:

    The following article seems to totally contradict CNBC. I smell a bias.


  8. Squeezer99 says:

    first we don’t spend 50% of our taxes on the military, and we should spend a lot on our military, whats wrong with protecting ourselves?

  9. howie_in_az says:

    @ConsumptionJunkie: But who will protect us from the terrists that want to kill us for our freedoms if not the military!?

    Please report for reeducation immediately.

  10. Poshua says:

    @squidbrain: The two reports are not contradictory as such, they just use different methodologies to produce optically different results. The differences are:

    (1) The Kiplinger report looks at all federal spending. The CNBC report, which is based on a report from the National Priorities Project, looks only at the use of income taxes rather than overall federal spending. It excludes Social Security and Medicare, which are paid for with dedicated taxes.

    (2) The Kiplinger report breaks out Veterans’ Benefits as a separate line item, while the CNBC/NPP report considers them a military expense. Veterans benefits’ are at least in part properly considered a military expense, but some veterans’ benefits (e.g., some VA health services) would otherwise be provided by other arms of the government if the recipients were not veterans.

    (3) The Kiplinger report breaks out interest expense as a separate line item, while the CNBC/NPP report apportions a share of interest expense to the military. The idea is that some of the debt was raised for past military expenses. This approach makes sense, but then NPP should also apportion the non-military debt to non-military programs, which they don’t do; they instead break non-military debt out as a separate expense.

    Method (3) makes comparisons within the NPP data (e.g., “We spend 42% of the budget on the military but only 22% on health care”) apples-to-oranges. The 42% includes debt expense related to the military, but the 22% excludes debt expense related to health care.

  11. JiminyChristmas says:

    That’s not an especially illuminating article. A more straightforward and comprehensive approach would be to delineate spending as a percentage of total revenue, regardless of where the revenue comes from.

  12. ConsumptionJunkie says:

    @Squeezer99: “…whats wrong with protecting ourselves?”

    First, the USA is far and away the most advanced, powerful military. Iraq/Iran is no threat to our survival.

    Second, funds from the military budget can be channeled into domestic spending, such as programs to eliminate poverty.

    Third, overspending on the military only causes other nations to react to us with hostility, perpetuating an endless arms race.

  13. squidbrain says:

    We are just protecting ourselves from Iran. It would great if that was the only country that threatened us. And don’t forget common sense. Some threats don’t exists just because we have a strong military.

  14. JiminyChristmas says:

    @Squeezer99: Here’s an informative link for you: World Military Spending

    Scroll down to the part that says ‘US vs. The World’ and you will see that the US accounts for 48% of global military spending. The US military budget exceeds that of the next highest spender, China, by about 600%. Defending oneself is one thing; maintaining enough military might to annihilate the rest of the globe is another thing.

    Military spending isn’t ‘bad’ but it’s a question of priorities. Money spent on the military that is grossly disproportionate to the threats we face is money not spent on something else: infrastructure, resrearch, health care, education, etc. Alternately, it’s money that you earn and don’t get to keep for yourself.

  15. backbroken says:

    Boy that’s a lot of spending on military items. Can’t we outsource that to China?

  16. JiminyChristmas says:

    I would be interested to know how ‘what the US spends on the military’ is calculated. Sure, add together the Pentagon and the VA, and that’s pretty straightforward. What about the CIA, NSA, and DHS? They’re certainly part of the defense establishment, are they included? Likewise for the so-called ‘black budget’ allocated to secret defense and intelligence efforts.

    What about nuclear weapons? There’s $30 billion per year, but that’s under the Department of Energy budget. Does that count?

    I’m almost certain that operations in Iraq and Afghanistan aren’t counted. They have been funded almost entirely off budget through ’emergency supplementals’. The shooting started 6 years ago in Afghanistan, 5 years ago in Iraq. One would think that by now someone could project a likely cost for ongoing operations and bring it on to the balance sheet. However, at a current burn rate of $12 billion per month, with a cumulative $800 billion spent to date it’s certainly not in Bush’s interest to make Iraq and the economy look like bigger debacles than they already do.

  17. stinerman says:


    Because you’re still going to vote for one of them anyway. Obama/Clinton would be the logical choice to call for a decreased military budget, but liberals and anti-war voters are going to vote for them anyway. It’s lose-lose as far as the candidates are concerned.

  18. Peeved Guy says:

    This would have been a much more entertaining thread if it had been posted in the morning rather than at 4:13 on a Friday.

  19. UsefulThings says:

    A quick review of the responsibilities that the federal government is charged with:

    Hmmm… Seems to me that maintaining a military would be the single most expensive undertaking. Therefore, 40%+ is not surprising.

    People, in general, should be more concerned with the total dollar figures being wasted by the government, rather than whining about poverty and education (which, strangely enough, are not mentioned in the Constitution).

  20. Here’s a utopian idea: They should allow taxpayers to set aside a particular percentage, like 5-10%, of their taxes and allow them to choose the government institution of their choice that gets their money! I’d choose NASA. We’d have people on Mars by now if they had 1-weeks budget of what is going towards the war in Iraq.

  21. BillyMumphry says:

    How about we discuss the absurd portion of the tax burden the “wealthy” (i’d love a definition of that too) pay? If you want to fix the tax structure I’ll be happy to support cutting all taxes that don’t go to infrastructure, education, and military personnel (thats the people, not the absurd planes, trains, and automobiles). Bye bye medicaid, bye bye social security. Everyone can retire with ease with proper savings and frugality. I work hard and I save my money. Do the same.

  22. Xerloq says:

    @costanza007: You forget that FICA is a separate tax. We must remember that this slideshow is about only income tax. Sneaky how CNBC snuck that one in.

    I think it would be useful to show how much income tax contributes to the overall budget. Better yet, show all the taxes, and how they are spent.

    But that doesn’t make good “news.”

    The military isn’t nearly as big when considered as part of the overall budget – especially when one considers the deficit financing currently practiced by the US government.

  23. wesrubix says:

    military or DoD? Big difference… I saw some comments regarding intelligence agencies as well, which are part of the DoD. So you get the idea.

  24. JAYEONE says:

    @LastVigilante: Now THAT is an idea I would totally vote for.

    First, fix that damn pothole in front of my house already, and then, money to Mars!

  25. taka2k7 says:

    @JiminyChristmas: US military personnel also get paid more than most other militaries, so that inflates the US figure somewhat. Still, I’d be willing to bet it was around 40% of the world total… still more than necessary.

  26. taka2k7 says:

    People don’t realise that military power is only one aspect of a nations power. Other aspeects include Diplomacy, Information, (military) and Economic (DIME).

    Our diplomatic skills are pretty much a joke, especially in the middle east.

    Information skills are pretty decent, but the media both helps and hurts this. Still US culture is widely aspired to (for better or worse)

    Military – second to nonebut wildky overstretched and new stuff costs waaay too much (isn’t this how we bankrupted the soviets?)

    Economic. Not so good, especially under Bush. It was all hollow growth; houses aren’t liquid assets (save for home equity loans…) Economic power is rapidly dwindling thanks to the me first/consumption economy.


  27. femmeknitzi says:

    I find it telling that we spend more on poverty initiatives than we do on education. Don’t get me wrong, I do want to eradicate poverty and believe in spending our nations money to do so. But it seems to me that education would help a whole lot more than bloated government programs.

  28. goodywitch says:

    Isn’t the purpose of federal taxes mainly for doing what states can’t do, ie military? That’s supposed to be most of the extent of federal taxes. The social programs should be distributed directly to the states and count for that pie chart.

  29. S-the-K says:

    I agree, 40% seems awfully large. Presumably that would include the salaries and housing expenses for those with families. I’m sure the truth is that 40% goes to welfare state expenditures.

    Even if 40% goes to national defense and 60% goes to pork barrel vote buying schemes and welfare state expenses, I still think it’s too small. At least national defense is paying for people and things that 1) is Constitutional and 2) provide a service to the nation.

    Vote-buying welfare state programs, besides being non-Constitutional, only pay people to NOT do something productive. If it weren’t for the money-spewing welfare state paying people to sit at home and watch Oprah and Maury and Montel, they’d be out busting their hump to get an education and get a job.

    At least the military busts their hump and does a job for the nation. Considering how piss-poor military pay is — especially for enlisted personnel — I think they should be paid more! Welfare losers get better medical care than veterans, I’d bet. And the only time welfare losers take incoming fire is when their drug deals go sour.