The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Discretionary Budget Priorities

What does the President really prioritize?  Well, the folks at the National Priorities Project have a nice little chart of the proposed discretionary budget for 2011.  Take a look for yourself…

Proposed 2011 Federal Discretionary Budget

Proposed 2011 Federal Discretionary Budget

Meanwhile, in the non-discretionary budget, Obama has sponsored a commission whose real mandate appears to be to figure out how to cut Social Security (and probably Medicare).

Priorities, priorities…  Blowing Afghanis into a find fine red mist is a priority…


No, The Feds don’t want the public to know the extent of the gusher


Crunch Time: Two Economic Scenarios for the rest of the year


  1. anonymous

    From the National Priorities Project, there is this explanatory text:

    The discretionary budget refers to the part of the federal budget proposed by the President, and debated and decided by Congress each year. The part of the budget constitutes more than one-third of total federal spending. The remainder of the federal budget is called ‘mandatory spending.’

    For those who want to compare and contrast, there is this pie chart (download one of the PDF files) that illustrates a breakdown of the entire budget, both discretionary and mandatory:

    It is useful because it includes the fact that past deficits for military spending increased the fed. gov’t. debt, which in turn increased the (mandatory) interest payment that is paid each year. So, the federal jobs program that is called the “military budget” not only has not been paid for, the gov’t. only pays the interest on its credit card charges each year.

  2. Priorities, priorities… Blowing Afghanis into a find fine red mist is a priority…

    That sounds a bit shrill.

    And entirely appropriately, brother!

    I. Feel. Sick.

  3. Ian, you forget that the one thing we Americans are still indisputably the best at is blowing people into a fine red mist. Keeping our #1 position takes a lot of money – especially when we then turn around and sell the Israelis a lot of our best red mist making technology to be purchased with our own foreign aid money.

    It’s sort of like a farm league for defense contractors.

  4. beowulf

    Of course the Military’s 58% understates the size of national security spending– you couldalso add all of Veterans spending, and a large portion of “International Affairs” (military foreign aid and CIA), Environment, Energy and Science (Energy Dept in charge of nuclear stockpile), include the debt service from past spending the actual number is at least 2./3rds.

    The most depressing thing about that is that we’d be even worse shape economically were it not for this military Keynesianism.

  5. Ian Welsh

    Blowing people into a fine mist is one of the US’s absolute advantages, yes. That and finance. Not very good things to have an absolute advantage in, but you work with what you’ve got, I guess…

  6. anonymous

    …military Keynesianism

    There’s the famous proposal that’s attributed to Keynes that during the first Great Depression, people could be paid to dig holes and fill them back in. If only “military Keynesianism” were that economically productive. In “military Keynesianism”, we dig coal and oil and metals out of the ground and burn it and blow it up so that it cannot be used for productive uses. In other words, we don’t simply not do anything productive, we actively do something that is destructive of useful materials.

  7. anonymous

    …we’d be even worse shape economically were it not for this military Keynesianism.

    Or, we would be in much better shape if we had the political leadership in the country that:

    1. Got rid of the military Keynesianism
    2. Instead put in place a gov’t. jobs program that built a new transportation and energy infrastructure, along with an energy efficiency program

    That we don’t have leadership that did that is something to be sad about.

  8. Ian Welsh

    Military Keynesianism is like taking drugs. At first, it makes you feel a lot better. After a while, it becomes the problem.

  9. Lex

    That’s the chart i’ve been waiting to see! Thanks, Ian.

  10. Just wait, Ian. Sooner or later we’ll figure out a way to combine synthetic CDOs with blowing people into fine mist.

  11. rumor

    John, I’m actually somewhat frightened that what you suggested doesn’t sound very hard to do at all.

  12. anonymous

    Military Keynesianism is like taking drugs. At first, it makes you feel a lot better. After a while, it becomes the problem.

    Dean Baker on the job losses that result from increased “defense” spending:

    The projected job loss from this increase in defense spending would be close to two million. In other words, the standard economic models that project job loss from efforts to stem global warming also project that the increase in defense spending since 2000 will cost the economy close to two million jobs in the long run.

    “Military Keynesianism” is an oxymoron.

  13. What is the problem with slashing SS and medicare? America spends far too much on the elderly already and these people deserve to be punished for the damage they have done to subsequent generations.

  14. anonymous

    What is the problem with slashing SS and medicare?

    Social Security has a $2.5 trillion dollar savings account already. Where is the savings account for weapons makers and mercenary contractors? There is none. It has all been charged on the national credit card, which has been “paid” at the “yearly minimum payment,” that is, the interest on the debt only.

    The “problem” with Medicare is not with the program, it is with the private corporations (drug makers, insurance companies, medical equipment makers, hospital companies) that charge far more for their service than the corresponding medical services cost in other First World industrial economies. And while charging far more, they cover less of the population and provide worse medical outcomes. If the medical services industry had been reformed so that the entire population was covered and they charged no more per citizen than is charged in other First World industrial economies, then there would be no need to slash Medicare.

    Please write this down so you won’t need to “ask” again.

  15. David H.

    I want to believe Curmudgeon is telling a joke with a straight face, in which case it’s rather amusing, in a macabre sort of way. But then maybe I’m just too eager to give a person the benefit of the doubt.

  16. I’m very serious. The teabagger generation receiving SS and Medicare now are the ones who inflicted Reagan on the rest of us and are in large part responsible for the economic desolation facing people under 40 globally. Canceling their benefits would be very well deserved poetic justice.

  17. dude

    Is there anywhere one can view a side-by-side comparison of the USA spending pie-chart as against Britian, France, Germany, Russia, Japan and assorted other countries?

  18. Pyperlie

    Quoting John J Sears:

    “Just wait, Ian. Sooner or later we’ll figure out a way to combine synthetic CDOs with blowing people into fine mist.”

    I think Richard K Morgan has written the blueprints.

  19. Stirling Newberry

    The graph is being nice, because veteran’s benefits are military spending, and as much as half of many of the other slices are related to defense, benefits for people who work in defense, or benefits for veterans. Also add in the advantages that veterans get – which are not objectionable in themselves, but are part of defense spending – and the final number for discretionary spending is close to 70%. After all, let’s not kid ourselves in calling “international aid” defense subsidies to Egypt and Israel, or “energy” spending involved with warehousing acidic sludge that is the bi-product of re-extraction of fissiles for making warheads.

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