By Sarah Farnham, Michael Albro, Alexander Haynes, and Dylan Taylor
Budget in Context
The Infographic below compares the United States to the rest of the world’s superpowers (the other countries that spend upwards of one trillion dollars). This baseline comparison allows us to put our spending in perspective and help us gain a better understanding of how the other world superpowers spend their money compared to the United States. A country’s budget is defined as an estimate of income AND expenditure over a period of time (usually one year).
There are many things that a government spends money on in order to ensure its people can survive and prosper. Social programs, such as social security, welfare, government housing, and food stamps and Medicare/Medicaid, are essential to a country’s people. National defense is also critical to ensure that a country can protect its citizens and its assets. Education is also important for the prosperity of a nation. In a very broad category called international affairs, you will find foreign trade, debt interest, and money spent as “charity” for other countries (disaster relief, money spent on international organizations).
You can see above that the United States is the country that spends the most of their budget on military, whereas Germany prioritizes social programs. China and Japan’s largest expenditure is a mixture of miscellaneous outlets.
After taking a close look at the chart above, you may have questions for yourself. Should the U.S. really spend that much on the military? Should it spend MORE on social programs? Should the U.S. be using more of its money to reduce the debt? All of these are valid questions that one of the four candidates running in the 2016 Election may be able to answer.
Our current expenditures total upwards of $3.8 trillion; 16% of that money is put into our national defense, 68% into social programs, 4.7% for veterans benefits, and 2.8% into education. Currently, these are the four departments that comprise most of the budget.
When the next President is elected it is very likely that the current delegation of federal funds will be changed, perhaps even drastically, depending on the candidate. They can construct and pass new legislation that changes spending or even pass an executive order that bypasses Congress and set up new laws regarding the budget.
Every president has an agenda and a plan that they try to push through Congress. Not all of it will ever go through, but any changes to the current system can have a domino effect.
Hillary Clinton has pushed to add a few key parts to the federal budget but overall Clinton plans to increase our country’s spending. The issues her campaign focuses on are as follows developing the Department of Education, refinancing the student loan process, fixing roads and bridges, expanding social security, enhancing public transportation, and ensuring every resident of the United States has affordable healthcare.
Clinton has vowed to push through legislation that would increase spending on Education: should all of her legislation pull through, deficit spending for our country would increase tremendously. To tackle the updates in the Transportation department she plans to call upon even more money increasing it by roughly 17%. For the foreseeable future Hillary has no plans to cut down, we can only assume the rest of the budget is going to stay consistent.
Donald Trump’s campaign for presidency has certainly been one of high controversy and has received quite a bit of attention from the media. Whether you like it or not, Trump has a serious chance of winning based on the most recent polls. One of the more notable things Trump wants to do is completely cut the Department of Education from our federal government. This means that schools that receive federal funding will no longer get money and students will not have access to certain federal loans.
Trump is also in favor of lowering tax rates in order to make raising families in the United States easier. This is good news for people who really do need every cent of their paycheck to live off of. However, it does mean that the U.S. government will have less money to spend.
In terms of the military, Trump promises to lower the amount we spend on defense. He believes he can raise a military more powerful than the one we have now, for a lower price. It is also no secret that Donald Trump is very much pro-American business. He wants to bring jobs back to the United States and reduce the China trade, focusing more on American businesses. This will be great news to American business owners everywhere.
Lastly, Trump has big plans to greatly reduce and possibly even eliminate the United States national debt. Currently, the U.S. debt sits over $19 trillion. Trump plans to spend a much larger percentage of our budget on paying that back.
If Jill Stein is elected, she proposed to considerably change the delegation of funds from their current state, such as creating a fifteen dollar an hour minimum wage. Another one of her major goals is to abolish student debt and provide tuition free education. Investing in agriculture, conservation, and public transit are all things Stein prioritizes with her legislation. She aims to have America transition to 100% renewable energy, this would create an influx of jobs in the department and development stages. Public Health is the last department on Stein’s agenda, expanding and improving public health.
In order to afford all of these programs, Stein plans on cutting military spending by a massive 50%, by closing many of the various United States military bases all around the world. Stein also hopes to establish a new foreign policy that is based on diplomacy, international law, and human rights.
The Libertarian candidate for this year’s Presidential election will be the former governor of New Mexico, Gary Johnson. For some who may not be aware of the Libertarian platform, it stands on one central point; the government needs to be less a part of our lives. One of the big factors in this is going to be a drastic drop in spending and taxes. Johnson has proposed that he will not let a single motion passed by congress move on if it includes deficit spending.
As with Trump, Gary Johnson proposes to cut the Department of Education from any funding and shut it down altogether. This would mean that the federal government would not be able to give out federal Stafford loans, but at the same time Johnson proposes that it will help save schools money, which will then lower their costs. He also states that the competition around private schools would help create money to support everyone in general.
He proposes to stay in the United Nations and to be at peace with the world, but stop intervening in foreign affairs. This would also cut the costs in taxes that go to foreign aid. Also, replacing the various federal taxes the government has on each item will be a consumption tax, which will be a flat tax on any sale.
Worcester is the fourth largest city in the northeast and this bustling metropolis relies heavily on government funding and social programs. In Worcester 11.6% of the population lives below the poverty line. Many of these impoverished people rely on federally funded social programs to make ends meet. If these programs are cut or expanded it could greatly impact the residents who need these programs.
For the students in the area, for example, any changes to the Department of Education or their student loan policy could potentially be detrimental to higher education and the future of our youth. Without federal loans, students would have to rely on loans from private institutions, such as private banks. They could raise or lower the interest rate anyway they please, which could dramatically increase/decrease the cost of student loans.
Without the chance to pursue higher education, our youth will be less likely to earn a living wage at a desirable job. Without the ability to obtain anything higher than a minimum wage paying job, skilled work would have high demand because no one would be able to fill those positions and many would not be able to find unskilled positions as everyone would be vying for them. This domino effect would continue to impact the community.