By the Numbers

The Third Way, a left-leaning non-profit think tank in Washington D.C., has produced a helpful guide to where your tax dollars go, in line-item form. You can check it out in detail at, but we’ve included a quick look at the numbers below. The receipt makes it clear where cuts will have to come from if we’re going to do anything meaningful about the national debt.


Adjusted gross income for the median American tax filer in 2008


Amount that filer paid in federal tax and FICA payments


Amount of that federal tax bill that goes to Social Security


Amount that goes to Medicare and Medicaid


Amount that goes to defense-related expenditures (Iraq and Afghanistan combat operations, military personnel, veterans’ benefits), not counting CIA or FBI expenditures


Amount that goes to highways, health care research, foreign aid, low income education funding, Pell Grants, NASA, IRS, EPA, FBI, Head Start, public housing, National Parks Service, Amtrak, the Smithsonian, arts funding, and Congressional salaries and benefits combined

$20 billion

The amount taxpayers spend to cover dialysis each year in the United States

$2 billion

Annual operating profits for the two corporations that dominate the dialysis-care system


Number of banks that have failed in 2010, through Nov. 16


Number that failed in 2009

Sources:; ProPublica; Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation