Advertisements
Issues & Insights

What Does Government Do?

What is the government’s primary function? If you look at the debates that rage each year when the president’s budget comes out, you’d think it was defense spending. Or food stamps. Or cancer research. Or student loans.

Any proposed changes to these programs make headlines. Just as President Donald Trump’s 2020 budget did. It would, we were told, “slash domestic spending,” “cut science and medical research,” and “eliminate funding for arts,” while boosting defense spending.

But if you look beyond the headlines at the actual budget document, you learn that those are all squabbles over crumbs. Today, the one thing the federal government does above all else is write checks to individuals. Lots of checks. Nearly $3.2 trillion worth of checks. Each and every year.

Buried in a separate volume of the annual budget are “Historical Tables,” which provide rich detail on how the government has spent taxpayers’ money going back as far as 1789. Three of these tables track “payment for individuals,” defined as “federal government spending programs designed to transfer income (in cash or in kind) to individuals or families.”

(Read the rest here.)

Advertisements

John Merline

Veteran journalist John Merline was Deputy Editor of Commentary and Opinion at Investor's Business Daily. Before IBD, he launched and edited the Opinion section of AOL News, and was a member of the editorial board of USA Today, where he continues to be a regular contributor. He’s been published in the Washington Post, National Review, Detroit News, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Forbes, and numerous other publications. He is regular commentator on the One America News Network and on local talk radio. He got his start in journalism under the tutelage of M. Stanton Evans.

Advertisements

About Issues & Insights

Issues & Insights is a new site formed by the seasoned journalists behind the legendary IBD Editorials page. Our goal is to bring our decades of combined journalism experience to help readers understand the top issues of the day. We’re doing this on a voluntary basis, because we believe the nation needs the kind of cogent, rational, data-driven, fact-based commentary that we can provide. 

If you like what you see, feel free to leave a tip in any amount $1 and up. Just click on the tip jar. It will help us defray the cost of running this site.

Subscribe to Issues & Insights via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to Issues & Insights and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,027 other subscribers

Advertisements

Copyright © Issues & Insights

%d bloggers like this: