Today, the Obama White House released an online app it is calling “Your 2011 Federal Tax Receipt.” The app is supposed to fulfill a promise that President Obama made in his 2011 State of the Union address, to allow American taxpayers to see exactly how the money that we pay into the federal Treasury gets spent.
Why did it take them a year to build what is essentially a simple online calculator with some pull down line items? Well, we’re talking about the federal government here, and they only approve shoddy loans to politically connected companies quickly. Fulfilling promises to you and me takes a bit longer. Also, 2011 was not an election year. 2012 is.
Here is a screenshot of the app. First, pay attention to the red arrow at the bottom of the page.
Why is that red arrow with the text about millionaires paying no taxes on what is supposed to be my tax receipt? Why, to make me angry at those greedy millionaires, of course. While it names Warren Buffet over on the right, by the way, it does not note that even Buffet doesn’t live by the Buffet rule. The entire “receipt” is less a promise fulfillment than a political statement intended to get users to favor raising taxes on the rich, which is something that Obama intends to do whether it helps the economy or not, in the name of “fairness.”
Take a look at how the “receipt” breaks out spending. Defense spending is at the top, and has the highest number. One would assume, then, that the line items are stacked in the order of how much they cost. But that is not the case. Costs get smaller and smaller until the end, when “Additional Government Programs” and the interest line item appear. The “receipt” also makes it look like defense spending is the largest expense that we have. It is not. Entitlement spending, which the “receipt” breaks out into several line items, is outpacing defense spending and has for years.
This “receipt” also omits a fundamental part of our national spending: Debt. We borrow about 41 cents for every dollar that we spend. So while you spend a certain amount on a given program today, you’re being hooked to spend more on it in the future. The closest that the “receipt” gets to mentioning that is the final line item, net interest, which is 8.1% of the budget according to the “receipt.” So, we are spending about one-third the level of our defense spending just to keep up with the interest on our massive national debt. Interest, not defense or even Social Security, is the fastest-growing expense we have, thanks to the fact that our debt is growing uncontrollably under President Obama.
The “receipt” also lacks much in the way of meaningful detail, hiding frivolous spending in “Additional Government Programs,” What are those? Wasn’t this supposed to tell us exactly where our money goes? The “receipt” doesn’t have a drop down to detail any of that.
What else is the “receipt” missing? It doesn’t note that nearly half of all Americans pay no federal income taxes at all, for one thing. Let me know what you find, in the comments. But — I advise against putting any real tax total numbers into the calculation fields. This calculator app is a product of the same group that doesn’t believe in online security.