You're probably aware the U.S. government spends a lot of money and more than it brings in. But few Americans have a really good understanding of how the budget works, where the money comes from and where it goes.
In Red Ink: Inside the High-Stakes Politics of the Federal Budget, Wall Street Journal economics editor David Wessel shines a light on the federal budget and seeks to clear up some of the "myths and unrealities," including:
Politicians Choose How the Money Is Spent: Over 60% of the federal budget -- $3.6 trillion in fiscal 2011 -- is on "autopilot," Wessel notes, citing Social Security checks, Medicare, Medicaid, farm subsidies and veterans benefits that occur "without a vote of Congress."
All the Money Goes to Foreign Aid and Government Workers: Foreign aid is typically less than 2% of the budget -- "it's a pittance," Wessel says, and firing all federal employees wouldn't even cut the deficit in half.
Uncle Sam Keeps Reaching in OurRead More »from ‘Americans Are Overtaxed’ and Other Federal Budget “Myths”