Find out where your taxes go

April 17 is “Tax Day” in the U.S., the deadline for filing state and federal tax returns. Tax Day is a good time to bring up The Budget Graph (shown below), which I discovered last September at the Accidental Hedonist. This graphic shows how federal spending is split among the agencies, with icons sized proportionally to their funding level. The Accidental Hedonist presented readers with a challenge and quiz related to the graph, and a few days later had the (rather discouraging) answers. A much simpler view of where your tax dollars go can be found at the National Priorities Project.

The President’s 2008 budget lays out almost $3 trillion in spending, with a proposal of $481.4 billion for the Department of Defense and a projection of over $250 billion in interest on the national debt. Food safety — a subject near and dear to Ethicureans — receives a relatively minuscule fraction. The Food and Drug Administration gets $391 million for its food safety operations in the President’s 2008 budget plan (PDF). The primary food safety agency of the USDA (the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service) gets $1.2 billion in the President’s 2008 budget proposal.

Regular readers of the Daily Digest will recall that several recent news stories have revealed that food inspectors are unable to keep up with the surge of imports because of understaffing, bureaucratic misalignment, and other problems. Perhaps the combined impact of these stories, the spinach debacle of last year, and the recent pet food crisis will cause Congress to get serious about food safety. Currently, food safety responsibilities are shared by 15 different federal agencies, which results in redundancies, gaps, departmental squabbling, and uncertainty. Sen. Durbin (D-IL) and Rep. DeLauro (D-CT) introduced legislation to unify food safety a few months ago, but it is hard to imagine the current Congress acting on such a massive bureaucratic reorganization. Until Congress is ready for real reform, increasing funding for inspection programs and for agencies that respond to food poisoning outbreaks would be a good interim action.

Image credit: Death and Taxes image from The Budget Graph.

2 Responsesto “Find out where your taxes go”

  1. Andy says:

    Anybody else notice who got the smallest piece of the pie?

  2. Andrea says:

    Haha, Andy!