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Where Does the Money Go?: Your Guided Tour to the Federal Budget Crisis

– tekijä: Scott Bittle

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioKeskustelut
914227,449 (3.75)-
A layperson's guide to how government financial decisions affect one's retirement, health-care, mortgage, and other concerns explains how decision makers are influencing tax allocations and the federal deficit.
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näyttää 4/4
very clear review of federal spending. ( )
  Dickco | Jan 7, 2012 |
The authors do not readily identify Treasury securities which are government bonds issued by the United States Department of the Treasury through the Bureau of the Public Debt. They are the debt financing instruments of the U.S. Federal government, and they are often referred to simply as Treasuries or Treasurys.

Alarmingly, the Chinese now hold the second highest total of bonds, not far behind our close ally Japan.

Major Foreign Holders Of Treasury Securities
(in billions of dollars)
Holdings At End Of Period:
Aug 2008
Japan
585.9
China, Mainland
541.0

If China decided to bank elsewhere and take their money out of the U.S., our economy would be in an even more precarious position.

Since 1970, the U.S. has operated under a deficit. In 31 of the past 35 years we have spent more than we have taken in. This is unsustainable. There are really only three options to fix the problem: raise taxes, nibble at the deficit, which the authors show is easier said than done and will not address the $9 trillion debt, or, balance the budget. In short, we can not afford our politicians who have acted so irresponsibly.

Fixing the deficit issue is difficult. A standard mantra is stop government waste, which is admirable, but this is not enough. Another tactic might be to heavily tax the "sin" taxes areas: drugs, cigarettes, etc., but the writers show also that this is an area that only effects 3% of the budget which is only make a slight dent in the problem. Even seemingly good ideas backfire which the authors demonstrate with the yacht tax. The idea was to just heavily tax yacht owners which seems like an idea that would only harm the wealthy. Unwittingly though, the little person was hurt as well. There are many more people who repair boats, sell them, maintain them and generally keep the industry as a whole afloat. They were harmed as well in the yacht tax. The federal budget is more of a conundrum that is ordinarily thought.

One good example is to examine how when even less popular or controversial programs are cut the problem remains. If all spending for the arts, space, foreign aid, and welfare were cut, only 4.08% of the federal budget would be effected. Even making deep cuts won't substantially address the budget problem.

How about bringing the troops home from Iraq? Will that work? Nope, sorry that is no solution either (p. 94). Bush moved the war funding from supplemental to the regular budget, but ending war funding won't close the deficit. The move only helped the funding become more transparent.

Another looming issue is the non-feasibility of continuing Social Security and Medicare. Until now, the programs have been pay-as-you-go arrangements which worked, until now (p. 97). The politicians had their hands in the pockets of working Americans since the money raised through these payments appeared to be a trust fund for Americans. However, the politicians treated the funds as free for the taking and they borrowed those funds to use. As boomers retire, money was available, but as more retire the question will be is there enough to pay the later retirees (p. 104). The illustrative graphs make it clearer just how severe the problem is (p. 105).

The only way out is to cut programs, raise taxes, or borrow more.

The politicians who attempted to level with the American people, even bipartisan stabs at the issue, failed. Gore considered the "lock box" notion a try to hold funds in reserve, and Bush as governor of Texas tried something along the same lines, but they were mocked by comedians and the ideas were abandoned.

By 2040, according to the authors, we will only have three seriously bad choices (p. 107).

They end the work on a more positive note but for the budget ideas to take hold they will need politicians who are honest, serious, and upfront about cutting the budget. I am more pessimistic about our chances.
1 ääni gmicksmith | Nov 16, 2008 |
Great book. If you are a money novice, like me, this is the book that will teach you all about how a federal budget works (or doesn't, actually). Covers how money comes in, how it goes out, how federal programs like social security and medicare work, and why we need to be concerned about the future (read: DEBT). Very accessible. Very necessary. ( )
  peggybr | Oct 12, 2008 |
A very accessible introduction to the complexities of the problems with the federal budget. It deflates myths from both ends of the partisan spectrum, explains the code behind the popular rallying cries, and provides lucid examples to illustrate its points. I'm docking them half a star for failing to proofread some of their graphs and tables in the first edition. ( )
  slothman | Mar 12, 2008 |
näyttää 4/4
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