Ezra has this chart, "the single best explanation of why it's so much easier to say you want to cut government spending than it is to actually cut it."
The blue line reports the results of an Economist/YouGov poll asking people "If government spending is reduced in order to balance the budget, which of the following government programs should receive lower federal funding than they currently do?" The red line is the percentage of the budget these programs actually account for.
The only program that more than a third of the public wants to see cut is foreign aid. Bummer, then, that it accounts for less than a single percent of the budget.
But the fact that people want a smaller budget deficit but no reductions in actual spending is old news, and well accounted for in Congress. What's interesting about this chart, however, is that a sizable minority of the population wants to cut defense spending. In fact, defense spending's size of the budget and the number of people who want to cut it match up much more closely than most of the other two bars on the graph.
Which leads to one of the best blog posts on the deficit, ever, from Dave Johnson at OurFuture.org.
Dear Deficit Commission,
It's not hard to figure out why we have a huge deficit. It's so easy I don't have to use words. Here are some pictures:
Bill Clinton raised taxes on the rich. Bush cut them.
Now, about that huge national debt...
The second chart kind of explains itself. The third chart can help you find a place to get some money:
(Note: There is no more Soviet Union.)
In case that isn't clear enough, try this:
Let me know if you still have any questions.
Add to this whole mix the general public support for raising taxes on the wealthy, including support from some of those wealthy people, it's actually not that difficult to figure out where the money can come from, and where it should go.
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