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Breaking down the federal budget

Aug 7, 2012

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Red Ink: Inside the High-Stakes Politics of the Federal Budget

In the 2011 fiscal year, the United States budget reached nearly $3.6 trillion dollars, and brought in $2.3 trillion in revenue. How did the U.S. budget and deficit balloon to such a massive figure? And where does all the money actually go?

David Wessel, in his book “Red Ink: Inside the High-Stakes Politics of the Federal Budget,“ breaks down the process of the national budget to explain to readers how the money gets spent. Nearly two-thirds of all annual federal spending is what Wessel calls “on autopilot.” That includes Social Security benefits, spending on Medicare and Medicaid, and interest payments on government bonds, which are all paid without any congressional approval, and already accounts for more money than the government brings in annually.

Through interviews with David Jack Lew, the White House Chief of Staff and former Office of Management and Budget director, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, and Paul Ryan, the Republican chairman of the House Budget Committee, Wessel dives into the nitty-gritty details of the national budget to explain how, and why, the federal budget needs to be fixed.

Guest:

David Wessel, Author of Red Ink: Inside the High-Stakes Politics of the Federal Budget (Crown Business); Economics Editor and writer of the Capital column for the Wall Street Journal

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