Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress claim that America spends too much on things like food stamps, welfare, and foreign aid.
But let’s look at how the government actually spends your federal tax dollars each year. We’re going to look at what’s known as the “discretionary budget,” which has to be reappropriated by Congress each year.
Start with foreign aid, the conservatives’ favorite boogeyman. It’s $29 billion a year. That may sound like a lot but it’s only 2 percent of all discretionary spending. Add all spending on international affairs, it’s 4 percent.
What about science and technology, including NASA, the National Science Foundation, and research in clean energy, which conservatives love to hate? Just 3 percent.
The environment and natural resources—money for clean air, safe drinking water and protecting public lands? Another 3 percent.
Roads, bridges, highways, airports, all transportation funding: Another 3 percent.
Community and regional development: 2 percent.
Law enforcement, the Department of Justice, the entire federal court system: 5 percent
The Centers for Disease Control, the National Institutes of Health, and rural health clinics: 5 percent.
Food stamps, energy assistance, child care, other income security: Just 6 percent.
But that’s only 46 percent. The remaining 54 percent of annual spending is on the military, which is more spent on the military than the next 7 nations combined. It’s huge. It’s about the only really big thing the federal government does.
You may be thinking, but what about Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act?
By law, these programs are mandatory spending, which don’t require Congress to approve funding every year. Americans have paid into Social Security and Medicare over their entire working lives.
Yet they’re still vulnerable. In fact, if Trump and Republicans in Congress aren’t going to cut discretionary spending—especially on the military—the only places they can look to make way for more tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations are Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
That’s been their goal all along.
Know where the money is really going. And know what they have in mind.
This post originally appeared at RobertReich.org.
Robert B. Reich is the chancellor’s professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley and former secretary of labor under the Clinton administration. Time Magazine named him one of the 10 most effective Cabinet secretaries of the 20th century. He is also a founding editor of The American Prospect magazine and chairman of Common Cause. His film, Inequality for All, was released in 2013. Follow him on Twitter: @RBReich.