Currently the Republican caucus in the United States House of Representatives is blocking a vote to raise the “debt ceiling” as they want to cut federal spending. They want to do this so that they can balance the budget in their view and reduce the amount of the debt. The catch is that they do not want to raise taxes and do not want to cut Social Security/Medicare/Medicaid, Defense spending, or Veterans spending.

Fortunately the nice folks at Treasury have a report showing a breakdown of federal outlays. If you section off those four categories, you’re protecting roughly sixty one percent of the budget. The “Income Security” category is broader than just Medicaid but for these purposes we’ll leave it and its generally related programs like SNAP in there.

With more than half the budget protected from cuts you end up wondering what is left. Another two percent relates to “general government” and that includes must have items like operating the treasury and the mint in addition to keeping our ability to conduct foreign relations. If you cut those things frankly we would not have much of a functioning federal government left. The plans are not quite fully thought out as we see in reports.

The clock keeps ticking as X Day draws nearer. With all the pre-conditions they have before making any cuts frankly Republicans would be looking at closing agencies and cabinet departments wholesale to reap and financial savings. The big four areas they’re trying to ring-fence are the costliest items in the entire budget. In contrast to spending on the big four, spending on Homeland Security only takes up one percent of the budget. Relatively speaking we spend a negligible pittance on NASA and less than half of NASA’s budget topline is what was appropriated for the National Science Foundation this past year. As much as the National Endowment for the Arts has been a target of Republicans it only got two hundred seven million dollars in the most recently enacted budget. Abolishing the Arts endowment wouldn’t lead to much in terms of budget savings.

This is all absurd. Where is the voice of reason? We’re heading too easily to sovereign default. Unfortunately there are no voices in DC calling for this matter to be resolved for the good of the nation so that we can move forward.

We are blessed with politicians who are more incompetent than usual.