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Where Does the Money Go?: Your Guided Tour to the Federal Budget Crisis Paperback – February 12, 2008


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Where Does the Money Go?: Your Guided Tour to the Federal Budget Crisis + The Public Administration Workbook (7th Edition) + Practical Govt Budgeting: A Workbook for Public Managers (Suny Series in Medical Anthropology)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: HarperBusiness; First Edition edition (February 12, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061241873
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061241871
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.2 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,176,952 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“If you are going to buy just one book in this presidential election year...consider Where Does the Money Go?…. A book that manages to be entertaining and irreverent while serving as an informative primer on a subject that is crucial to the future of all Americans.” (New York Times)

From the Back Cover

From the editors of the award-winning nonpartisan Web site Public Agenda Online comes this irreverent and candid guide to the federal budget crisis that breaks down into plain English exactly what the fat cats in Washington are arguing about

Federal debt will affect your savings, your retirement, your mortgage, your health care, and your children. How well do you understand the government decisions that will end up coming out of your pocket?

Here is essential information that every American citizen needs—and has the right—to know. This guide to deciphering the jargon of the country's budget problem covers everything from the country's $9 trillion and growing debt to the fact that, for thirty-one out of the last thirty-five years, the country has spent more on government programs and services than it has collected in taxes. It also explores why elected leaders on every side of the fence have so far failed to effectively address this issue and explains what you can do to protect your future.


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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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This book makes these very complex topics easy reading.
Kristin
Consicely put together and written so even those who have no real clue as to what the situation of the economy in the US is can understand the reality of it.
W. E. Weems
This book is a very good overview and presentation of the problems that we face with the Federal budget.
Melanie Halpern

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Bryan Carey VINE VOICE on March 13, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Federal spending continues to grow year after year and most Americans are fully aware of the budget problems faced by the Federal government and how the government almost always spends more money than it collects in revenue. But in spite of what we know, most Americans don't make many demands on politicians to solve the budget problem. Content to push the problem to another year, most Americans sit back and listen to the dismal fiscal news, but do little or nothing to work for change. Authors Scott Bittle and Jean Johnson are fully aware of this apathy on the part of the public and they wrote this book to explain the budget process in a way that most anyone can understand; with the ultimate goal being a better understanding of the budget problems and a more activist mindset on the part of the public.

This book was written to enlighten people about the United States federal budget and it accomplishes this goal with both simplicity and style. As everyone knows, the federal budget of the United States is gigantic- the largest government budget in the world with revenues and spending levels that make it several times larger than even the largest corporation. These larger than life numbers often create confusion on the part of the public, and one of the main goals of this book is to put the numbers into perspective so that readers will understand them. Through the use of graphs, charts, and comparisons, the authors succeed at making the numbers understandable. For example, there is one section that helps the reader understand how much a billion dollars is by showing what this amount of money could buy. To quote one example, a billion dollars is enough to pay the college tuition for 45,000 people at a private university for one year.
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45 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Loyd E. Eskildson HALL OF FAME on February 18, 2008
Format: Paperback
"Where Does the Money Go?" is a guide for people who care about where the country is going but don't have the time or inclination to become budget experts. The authors point out that in 31 of the last 35 years the government in Washington, D.C. has spent more than it collected in taxes. Our federal deficit now totals $9 trillion, and will escalate as boomers retire and draw upon Social Security and Medicare. Meanwhile, more and more concern is being raised about the AMT - set to kick in at $200,000 in '69, and threatening more and more "middle-income" families as inflation continues.

Japan and China together hold about $1 trillion of our federal debt, with OPEC nations holding another $100 billion. Meanwhile, our personal savings rate was a minus 2% in 2006.

Major sources of federal taxes include corporate taxes (15%), personal taxes (33%), and Social Security + Medicare (33%). Major uses include defense (20%), interest (9%), Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security (40%), and discretionary spending (40%).

Probably the biggest value of "Where Does the Money Go?" lies in its objective assessment of various "quick fixes" - eg. simply let the Bush tax cuts expire (will take a long time to correct; regardless, won't fix Medicare or Social Security), cut discretionary spending (very, very difficult), etc.
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30 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Jonathan Dolhenty on February 27, 2008
Format: Paperback
Scott Bittle is an award-winning journalist as well as the executive editor of a public affairs website called Public Agenda Online. In "Where Does the Money Go?" he and his co-author Jean Johnson have put together an extremely valuable tool for American voters, especially so in this vital presidential election year. The book, as described by the authors in the preface, is "a straightforward explanation of what politicians, economists, think tanks, and lobbyists are arguing about when they fight about the federal budget." And so it is.

Outside of global terrorism and the international need to urgently develop a winning strategy for bringing about fully functioning nation-states with liberal democratic governments, I can't think of a more important topic for national discussion in this election year than dealing with the immense problem all Americans face with the national debt at the point it is ($9 trillion and growing!). Something simply has to be done and done quickly; an economic catastrophe for the United States looms on the near horizon.

Now, it needs to be said that Bittle and Johnson do not propose "the" solution to the problem of the growing national debt. They do an excellent job of presenting the problem (both historically and in its present manifestation), providing the reader with a multitude of statistics (with appropriate graphs and charts), and analyzing the ins and outs of various ways to approach the problem, with critiques of some solutions already suggested.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Thomas M. Terry on December 21, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I picked this up because it was a staff pick at a bookstore this summer. I consider myself reasonably well-informed on news and general economic issues, but I learned something new from every chapter of this relatively short but extremely well-written book. The authors aren't partisan and ask thought-provoking questions throughout. I recommended it to our book group (whose usual preference is for fiction) and everyone found it worthwhile reading. Our group includes both democrats and republicans, and all of us thought the book was important, very readable, something we would recommend for everyone to read. It prompted us to talk extensively about the challenges faced by increasing national debt and deficit, and to discuss possible ways to modify social security and medicare so that the systems will remain solvent. One of the last chapters includes a detailed map of the federal budget, which we read while appreciating that Obama's transition team must be studying exactly the same information with the charge of suggesting budgetary modifications. Highly recommended for anyone from high school to senior citizens.
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