Dear Fellow Americans,

Welcome to the Annual Report of the United States of America, dedicated to explaining and analyzing the federal budget and proposing sustainable fiscal solutions. Please take time to learn about the challenges facing U.S. spending policy and engage your fellow citizens to enact real, sustainable reform.

Read the editors' letter

Annual Report

and / October 24, 2011 6:10 pm

Editors’ Letter

Dear Fellow Americans, Welcome to the Annual Report of the United States of America. ARUSA is dedicated to explaining and analyzing the federal budget and proposing sustainable fiscal solutions. We hope you use this tool to first learn about the challenges facing American spending policy and then engage your fellow citizens and legislators to enact real, sustainable reform. This year, ... Read More

and / October 24, 2011 5:45 pm

The United States Income Statement

This year, Americans watched as the national debt rose to $14.7 trillion, nearly matching the GDP. A tumultuous Congress passed the Budget Control Act of 2011 to raise the debt ceiling on the condition that the federal government decreases future spending. Despite the last-minute compromise, Standard & Poor’s downgraded the US credit ranking from an AAA to an AA+ immediately ... Read More

/ October 24, 2011 5:20 pm

Welfare in a Recession

The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA) is perhaps the defining bipartisan moment of the Clinton Administration. President Clinton promised it would “end welfare as we know it,” and he touted its success ten years later, declaring that it created “a new beginning for millions of Americans.” Not since FDR’s New Deal or Johnson’s Great Society ... Read More

/ October 24, 2011 5:14 pm

The Bank Bailout in Perspective

Was the despised but ultimately profitable TARP program a success?

/ October 24, 2011 4:58 pm

The Social Security Taboo

First called the “third rail” of American politics by Speaker of the House Tip O’Neil in 1981, Social Security remains one of the most divisive programs in our budget. Add the fact that it is the single largest expenditure by the federal government, and its sheer size prevents Washington from reaching reform or compromise year after year. In fact, the ... Read More

/ October 24, 2011 4:54 pm

Lions and Tigers and Government Shutdowns! Oh My!

The recent debt-ceiling crisis was more contentious than a Texas football game, as Democrats and Republicans rejected each others’ budget cut proposals. But this rivalry characterizes the current partisan political season. In April, the US prepared for a potential government shutdown while Democrats and Republicans struggled up until the last moment to agree on a budget for the upcoming fiscal ... Read More

/ October 24, 2011 4:50 pm

Can We Afford Science Research?

On December 14, 1972, the voice of astronaut Gene Cernan, the last man to walk on the moon, came through the loudspeaker at NASA Houston: “I take man’s last step from the surface, back home for some time to come…God-willing we will return.”  The Apollo missions, of which Apollo 17 was the last, were by far the most popular manned ... Read More

/ October 24, 2011 4:21 pm

Public Media Fights Above Its Weight

In 1969, a softspoken protestant minister with a manner too gentle for Washington appeared before the Senate Subcommittee on Communications.  The question was whether the federal government would grant the recently created Corporation for Public Broadcasting the 20 million dollars it needed to get off the ground.  Asked to testify on behalf of educational children’s television, Mr. Fred Rogers – ... Read More

/ October 24, 2011 4:10 pm

Runaway Medicare and Medicaid Spending

Health care spending in the United States has been growing significantly faster than the national economy for several years, posing serious threats to the solvency of Medicare and Medicaid. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that federal spending to support Medicare and Medicaid will rise to 12% of the GDP in 2050 and 19% of the GDP in 2082, which, ... Read More

/ October 24, 2011 4:00 pm

A Moral Conundrum: How American Business Money Changes the International Landscape

The world’s largest capitalist society is expanding, dominating industry and innovation and inspiring awe for its economic prowess. Capitalist America’s journey into 21st century business is accompanied by an expansion of the scope of business itself—into international markets and politics. American business money, as much as federal money, floods international markets and thereby guides the international dialogue on business values, ... Read More

/ October 24, 2011 3:55 pm

Another Slice? Asking for More

If there’s one thing that the New York Times and Sarah Palin can agree on, it’s that Congress is full of money-grubbing crooks.

/ October 24, 2011 1:21 pm

Finding the Cure for Healthcare

Before signing the historic Social Security Act of 1965 that would create modern-day Medicare and Medicaid, President Lyndon Johnson took a moment to reflect on tradition. “It calls upon us never to be indifferent toward despair,” Johnson said. “It commands us never to turn away from helplessness. It directs us never to ignore or to spurn those who suffer untended ... Read More

/ October 24, 2011 1:07 pm

The Troubled History (and Future) of Veterans’ Benefits

Few would disagree that American troops show incredible bravery at war. From World War II to the more recent conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, there is no dearth of harrowing accounts from the front lines. But what of those same troops when they return home? The stories often end when their military tour is complete, and suddenly those American heroes ... Read More

/ October 24, 2011 3:29 am

The Cost of Education: A Disproportionate Influence

In a world where money talks, federal education funding tends to yell loudly into a speakerphone in the contentious playground of the education budget. Ever since the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 introduced consistent federal funding for schools across the nation, education funding has faced a constant give-and-take between local practices and federal regulation. Federalism’s dynamics aren’t new, but ... Read More

/ October 24, 2011 3:25 am

Tough Choices: Cutting Defense

In May of last year, Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) introduced a bill called the “War is Making You Poor Act.” The bill proposed to slash the $159 billion of “supplementary spending” in the defense budget that pays for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, mandating that the Pentagon instead pay for the wars out of its $549 billion base budget. ... Read More

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