Friday, January 16, 2015

You Won’t Believe The Appalling Amount We Spend On Social Security (INFOGRAPHIC)


You Won’t Believe The Appalling Amount We Spend On Social Security (INFOGRAPHIC)

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We just ran through the numbers for Congress’ wretched 2015 budget deal, and can’t believe how much we’re spending on Social Security. Even more appalling are our outlays for education, health care, food stamps, and other government programs.

We’re not spending nearly enough.

Take a look at the pie chart below to see what’s wrong with this picture. We’re not spending nearly enough on Social Security and other safety net programs. Nor can this paltry budget — which doesn’t even accurately account for the rising cost of living — do anything towards rebuilding our nation’s crumbling infrastructure or spurring innovation and economic growth.
The National Priorities Project reports that out of the US government’s entire $1.16 trillion pot of “discretionary spending” money for the upcoming year, a whopping $640 billion goes to the military. Whoa. let that sink in for a second. $640 billion for the military. That’s 55.2 percent of all federal funds not already committed. Even Social Security — which we all pay into — doesn’t get that much.
Pie chart with 2015 US discretionary spending for Social Security and other government programs.
2015 US discretionary spending for Social Security and other government programs. Infographic byElisabeth Parker.
Republicans love saying we don’t have enough money to cover the essential public functions shown on this pie charts, but that’s a lie. Back in mid-twentieth century America, our higher (but still comparatively modest) tax rates on corporations and one percenters fueled innovation and a broadly-shared prosperity never known to mankind before, or since.

During the prosperous years of the mid-twentieth century (1950-1970), we also spent way too much money on our military. But at least other spending helped balance it out. Now, we lavish money on a military that commits humanitarian outrages around the world while failing to care for its own soldiers, and have little left for anything else.
Meanwhile, the following essential programs remain underfunded for the third decade in a row:
(10) Social Security, unemployment, and labor ($56.1 billion): Social Security, unemployment, and labor only gets a scant 4.8 percent from this budget in a time of high (albeit dwindling) unemployment (assuming you count crappy low-wage jobs at McDonalds and Walmart as “employment”). Americans pay directly into federal funds for social security, disability, and unemployment insurance, yet Republicans in Congress sneeringly call them “entitlements,” as though we aren’t actually entitled to them.
(9) Medicare and health ($56.7 billion): Medicare and Obamacare (aka the ACA)  are two other programs that Republicans love to attack because they hate anything that improves the quality of life for their fellow Americans, no matter how efficient, well-run, and cost-effective these programs are. And the heck with flu vaccines and other public health initiatives. The GOP would rather just cast sick and elderly people away on an ice floe to die in some quiet, invisible way that doesn’t annoy them.
(8) Food & Agriculture ($12.8 billion): Conservatives in Congress love bashing food stamp recipients as “lazy” even though a lot of them actually do work, and simply don’t get paid enough. And despite the horrifying fact that 25 percent of US children now live in poverty — a record level here, and a much higher rate than in other developed nations — the GOP apparently wants them to starve. “Please, sir, can I have some more?”
(7) Veterans benefits ($65.5 billion): This seems generous, until you consider that a quick stroll through your local homeless encampment will swiftly reveal how badly our nation for our veterans. Alas, the skills our soldiers gain while serving in the military don’t translate well to the outside world, regardless of what all those ads and campus recruiters promise. Alas, Walmart doesn’t need as many armored tank drivers and ballistics specialists as you’d think.
(6) Science ($29.2 billion): Forget about the days when America led the world in technology and innovation. The pathetic $29.2 billion we spend on science not only won’t spawn the next Internet, we’ll be lucky if that level of funding allows us to keep up with the latest flu virus mutations.
(5) Energy & the Environment ($38.4 billion): Once you subtract all those fossil fuel incentives and subsidies, there’s very little left to develop renewable energy sources and promote an environment that’s actually habitable for humans in the near future. Then again, the world is barely habitable for humans now.
(4) Government ($63.9 billion): Since we’re cutting back on government programs, we won’t need government employees to keep them running. Except for the ones who process unemployment applications. We’ll need more of those.
(3) Transportation ($26.1 billion): Who needs roads, trains, and public transit? Once the US government lays everyone off and corporations ship all the jobs overseas, nobody will need to go anywhere anyway. But that’s okay, we can just hunker down in our bunkers and breed our New World Army.
(2) Housing & Community ($60.9 billion): Like food stamps, federal programs that help low-to-middle-income folks afford to rent or purchase homes  are under attack, even though 30 years of conservative policies have caused more people to need help in the first place.
(1) International Affairs ($38.2 billion):When military intervention doesn’t do the job, or causes bad PR, our leaders can schmooze the right people or make a thoughtful gesture. Perhaps we should fold this into the military budget, but we can’t, because it’s already so bloated.
Social Security has always been solvent and can continue meeting its obligations if we continue supporting the program as a nation. Even if we don’t agree with a government-run insurance system for retirement and disability, it’s what we’ve got, and we need to honor our promises.
When you look at the US government’s total 2015 budget of $3.9 trillion, Social Security accounts for $1.33 trillion (33.6 percent) and Medicare accounts for $1.05 trillion (26.6 percent). But that spending is far less lavish than it seems, when you consider that all working Americans pay for — or have paid for — Medicare, Social Security, and unemployment insurance.
Total US Government budget for 2015.
Total US Government budget for 2015 with $3.9 trillion, and $1.33 trillion for Social Security, unemployment, and labor. Pie chart: National Priorities Project.
But despite the fact that we’ve all bought and paid into this federally-run insurance system that provides a safety net of last resort for when we get laid off or get too old or too sick to work, these programs are constantly under assault by Republicans. In fact, the GOP attacks and chips away at nearly all government programs that once made America among the best places in the world to live, and then manages to convince Americans that education and other programs aren’t working.
The only program Republicans want to fund is the military: But, of course not the programs that help bring soldiers from low income backgrounds into the middle class, and not the programs that care for the veterans we’ve destroyed.

More from Addicting Info on Social Security:


H/T: Jenna B. Pope | Featured image: Elisabeth Parker.

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