The Budget

Speaking of things that are astronomically large, here is the entire proposed budget of the United States (well, the summary tables, anyway). It’s very interesting reading.

I lied. It’s not. But there are some things you should know, like how to read it.

I found the best place to start is buried near the bottom of the linked page to the summary tables, and from there, go to Table S–7, Budget Summary by Category, again, near the bottom of the page. Why they put the starting point near the bottom, I’ll never know. But they did.

From that Table S-7, we can see that the budget is broken up into three parts; Mandatory, Discretionary and Interest expenditures. I assumed that the latter is the interest on the national debt. The mandatory expenditures are divided into Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and “other”, which is not a small portion of the total “mandatory” expenditures. (I must admit to being curious about what’s in that “other” category of mandatory expenditures.)

The interesting part, of course, is the discretionary budget. For both 2007 and 2008, this is about 1 trillion out of a total budget of just under 3 trillion.

Now, how you think the 1 trillion discretionary budget is spent is very dependent on how you cut it up. I mean, some people want to count Veteran’s Affairs budget as part of the military budget (and therefore want to lump it in with defense), along with Homeland Security. Table S-3, nearer the top, lists the budgets of all federal agencies separately. From there, you can see that the Department of Defense got about half of the approximately 853 billion budget the government spent on government agencies (and about 40% of all discretionary funds). It got about 15% of the total budget, however (437 billion divided by 3 trillion). I’m not complaining, since I hope to see some of that back in my paycheck this year.

NASA got $16.2 billion in 2007, which is less than 2% of the budgets spent by all agencies. It’s about 0.2% (yes, two tenths of one percent) of the total budget. That includes mission current going to Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn and Pluto.

I’m just sayin’.

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