A Joe Primer

Because most of us don't have first hand knowledge of how much, say, $177 billion or $12 trillion really buys a government, citizenJoe offers our readers this dollar-o-meter (suggestions for better names welcome) to help put all the numbers on this site in perspective.

Important note: these numbers are very rounded off to make them easier on the eyes. 2005 numbers are also usually estimates to start off with. To get the actual numbers, just click on the source links.

$1 billion - 0.04% of the budget (4 pennies out of 100 dollars)

  • $1 billion - federal funding for Amtrak (WP)

  • $5 billion - federal funding for community development in 2005 (OMB)

  • $8 billion - funding to conduct foreign affairs in 2005 (OMB)

$10 billion - 0.4% of the budget (40 pennies out of 100 dollars)

  • $25 billion - federal funding for science research and space exploration in 2005 (OMB)

  • $30 billion - cost of federal food stamps in 2005 (CBO)

  • $50 billion - one year of military spending in Iraq (CJ)

$100 billion - 4% of the budget (4 dollars out of 100 dollars)

  • $200 billion - total national spending on criminal justice in 2001 (BJS)

  • $300 billion - Medicare spending in 2005 (CBO)

  • $500 billion - defense spending in 2005 (CBO)

$1 trillion - 40% of the budget (40 dollars out of 100 dollars)

  • $2 trillion - total federal revenue in 2005 (CBO)

  • $8 trillion - total federal debt in 2005 (CBO)

  • $12 trillion - U.S. gross domestic product in 2005 (CBO)

Did we miss something, let some slant slip in, lose a link - or do you just have something to say? Drop a line below! In the spirit of open dialogue, cJ asks you keep it civil, keep it real and keep it focused on the message, not the messenger. See our policy page for more on what that all means.

If more of those billions

If more of those billions went to improving educational systems, and energy and scientific research the future of the nation and the whole world would seem more promising, but unfortunately that is not the case.

Dollars Spent on Viagra Pills Can Make a Difference

What about the millions that go every month into Pfizer's pockets from their so called little/magical blue pill; Viagra?

If the FDA could be more courageous and led people to cheap Viagra online suppliers then a lot can be saved and more patients would be happier and healthier.

Cialis and Levitra also need to cut like 80% off their current crazy prices for a clearly overpriced medications.

Let work together to achieve that.

Zed | July 7, 2009 - 11:13am


I think it is very important for Americans to know that we now have a "fiat currency"--basically, a currency that is unbacked by any kind of capital. This happened in 1913 when a small group of bankers--John Rockefeller, J.P. Morgan, and Paul Warburg, among others, bribed and tricked Congress into passing the Federal Reserve Act without the required Constitutional amendment. The Federal Reserve is not a true government agency, but a private bank--actually, a 'cabal' of banks, centralized under the Fed. Reserve. It is un-Constitutional, because the gov't is supposed to print and issue currency, and the only legal tender is gold or silver. The dollar is supposed to be--and was, under 'The Gold Standard'--merely a receipt, which you could take to the bank and get the real money, the Gold or Silver. Paper does not have much value. President W. Wilson wrote, in regret of signing the Fed. Reserve Act in 1913: "I am a most un-happy man. I have unwittingly ruined my country. A great industrial nation is now subject to its system of credit. We are no longer a government by free opinion, no longer a government by conviction and the vote of the majority, but a gov't by the opinion and duress of a small group of dominant men." The government now has to borrow money from the FED--which it could and should print on its own--and pay interest on that loan. It's no coincidence that the 16th amendment, or "income tax amendment" was also passed in 1913. Congress needed a way to pay for the interest! Both are un-Constitutional, and I refer you to Aaron Russo's movie, watch it for free on Google video, "America: Freedom to Fascsim."

Alan Veil | December 29, 2007 - 6:03pm

Foreign Affairs

I think when they say "Foreign Affairs" they mean a lot more than diplomatic meetings. There's also the darkside of "foreign affairs" which probably gets funded from money that doesn't go on the ordinary books...You know, black ops and all that stuff...the CIA really does this stuff...It's not like they depict in Hollywood always..but then again, sometimes Hollywood gets close to the mark...Thing is, since it's "classified" we don't find out till years later. What about the recently released "Northwoods Documents" which show that the gov't is willing to kill its own soldiers and citizens in "false flag" ops to garner public support or meet any other political/military objectives?

Alan Veil | December 29, 2007 - 5:30pm

why would it take 8 billion to conduct a foreign meeting?

why would it take 8 billion to conduct a foreign meeting? it's not like you have to pay them to attend the meeting,.........right?

melissa | November 18, 2007 - 2:09pm