I recently discovered GovBudget, a Web site devoted to understanding and explaining how the federal government raises and spends money. The site has graphs showing what percentage of revenues is generated from individual, corporate, payroll, and other taxes. There's also graphs showing how the government spends these tax dollars on Social Security, Medicare, defense, interest payments, and other items. There's also explanations of various terms used by budget analysts, such as discretionary spending and mandatory spending and budget authority. These are terms I didn't fully understand until I read these very understandable explanations. (I discovered this site through RefDesk's site of the day newsletter.)
Here's some additional resources on understanding the federal budget:
- The Budget Graph, an amazingly detailed visual representation of the budget from graphic designer Jess Bachman. I have his poster in my office to remind me and my clients just where our tax dollars are going.
- Overview of the 2008 Federal Budget from About US Economy.
- Budget of the US Government from the GPO Web site.