Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Twelve percent (12%) or my analysis of the State of the Union Speech 2011

Do you know what the number 12% represents?

I admit that I did not watch the President's State of the Union speech because I figured that nothing interesting would be said, other than "we must get off foreign oil and become energy independent" and "hope!" and "change!".

That stupidity was said - true.

But during the speech Obama went off the script, and - I believe - let slip a very significant fact.

This fact is there for all to see for everybody who saw the speech live and paid attention, or for those who glanced over the transcript.

On the way to work today I, as most boring white computer dorks do, listened to NPR.

I heard two short cuts - highlights - of Obama's speech, and one of them affected me so much that I almost did not break in time which would have resulted in a 30 mph rear end collision.

And now, without further adoo, here it is, from Huffington Post SotU transcript:

Now, most of the cuts and savings I've proposed only address annual domestic spending, which represents a little more than 12 percent of our budget. To make further progress, we have to stop pretending that cutting this kind of spending alone will be enough. It won't. (Applause.)

Read that again.


The government spends only 12% of the total budget on domestic spending.

Now, before I go nuts, lets say what domestic spending actually means?



Domestic spending is money that the (federal) government spends inside the actual country, the United States of America.

This, according to my quick and dirty google research, excludes the entitlement biggies spent in the country - Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid (someone correct me if I am wrong).

But that only 12% of the federal budget is spent inside this country (again, other than entitlements and military affairs) is a staggering fact.

That's your educational programs (is your children learning, we must ask ourselves!).

Your health programs (other than those for older folks).

That's unemployment and food stamps.

Disaster relief.

That's your public works.

Federal pensions.

Grants to universities to make ground breaking research, for example to wean us off the foreign oil (oh the irony).

National Parks.

Courts, prisons, fire engine companies.

That's the US Army Corps of Engineers working on such (useless) projects such as the New Orleans levees...

That's your economic stimulus (which of course is no longer needed, as we are in full recovery mode and things are going swimmingly, right?).


That's it.


Skeptic said...

I think he means 12% of GDP, not 12% of federal spending.

Anonymous said...

I think you're missing an important 'layer' though. That layer is the 'state' layer. The vast majority of education funding comes from states and municipalities, not the federal government. Same goes for fire/police, medical, and a whole slew of other stuff you mentioned.

The constitution pretty clearly -wants- the federal government to be limited to defense of the union, for the union to have diversity within its borders, and for citizens of the union to be able to move freely between different states. It's an amazingly good system that -should- let states flourish under their own merits. The massive move towards nationalizing things like education and other funding that ought to be handled state-by-state is a major problem. Right now about 3/4 of my taxes go to the federal government, which issues back virtually all the money to my state on its terms. I'd much rather have 3/4 of my money go to my state, and for my federal taxes to only cover defense and administration. At least that way, I can choose to live in a state that suits my lifestyle and values, rather than within a massive homogenized nation.