Responsible Budget Reporting

July 22, 2013

Responsible Budget Reporting

Are you concerned a proposed farm bill would spend $195 billion on farm subsidies over the next decade? How about $80.35 billion spent on food stamps last year? Would you be more or less concerned if it were $1.95 billion and $8 billion?

Would you have any idea what these numbers mean?


We’ll even do it for you:

I would like to see this expressed as

per capita % of total revenues % of discretionary spending % of the unified budget

Dollar Amount
of Program/Cut/Etc*





Percent of Budget


* Confidential to the New York Times: 1 million = 1,000,000 (six zeroes); 1 billion = 1,000,000,000 (nine zeroes); 1 trillion = 1,000,000,000,000 (12 zeroes).

Source: Congressional Budget Office, The Budget and Economic Outlook, Fiscal Years 2013 to 2023; Census Bureau; and basic arithmetic.

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