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Where Do Your Tax Dollars Go?

In honor of Tax Day tomorrow, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has put together a helpful brief reminding us that, as it turns out, the federal government doesn't spend all our hard-earned dollars on a bunch of bridges to nowhere in Alaska. About two-thirds of the federal budget goes to defense, Social Security, and health care. The rest of it goes to interest on the national debt, safety-net programs for the very poor (the Earned Income Tax Credit, housing and heating assistance, food stamps, and so forth), and a handful of other areas like veterans' benefits, scientific research, education, and transportation. This isn't to say that pork-barrel spending isn't an abomination (it is) or that entitlement programs shouldn't be means-tested (they should). But it's always important to keep in mind that when conservatives--like, for instance, a certain senator from Arizona--suggest that we can get our fiscal house in order by cutting huge chunks of generic wasteful spending without confronting any real tradeoffs, they're either ignorant or they're lying.

--Josh Patashnik