United States government

Deficit shrank in August, but …

Deficit shrank in August, but …

The top takeaway of the Congressional Budget Office Monthly Budget Review for August 2020 is that the deficit for the month is smaller than last August. But there are details. Sometimes it pays to read the fine print. Otherwise, you may receive a false impression. Here is the monthly budget review for August 2020, which is the eleventh month of fiscal year 2020: The federal budget deficit in August 2020 was $198 billion, CBO estimates, $3 billion less than the deficit in August of last year. However, that comparison is distorted by shifts in the timing of certain payments in…
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Border wall procedures criticized

Border wall procedures criticized

A government watchdog says the procedures for acquiring the southern border wall are inadequate, and the ability to maintain complete operational control is diminished. A report by the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security finds that U.S. Customs and Border Protection found the procedures for procuring the southern border wall inadequate for the task. Specifically, the IG found that CBP did not attempt to identify "the most effective, appropriate, and affordable solutions to obtain operational control of the southern border as directed." Instead, the IG described the methods as "outdated." The report found other deficiencies and…
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Federal revenue and outlays

Federal revenue and outlays

An interactive visualization of federal government revenue and spending from 1962 to the present. This data comes from the Congressional Budget Office Budget and Economic Data page. While CBO often makes projections of the future and those projections may be controversial, the data in this visualization is historical. CBO presents this data in current dollars and as a percent of gross domestic product, or GDP. When current dollars are adjusted to account for inflation, the result is "real dollars." In this visualization, I have used the CPI to convert current dollars to the value of dollars in 2019. CBO also…
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Relations with North Korea

Relations with North Korea

The Congressional Research Service has produced a summary and timeline of recent events pertaining to the United States and North Korea relationship. In May the Congressional Research Service published a timeline of events relating to the relationship between the United States and North Korea. The document is available here: North Korea: A Chronology of Events from 2016 to 2020. Here is a portion of the report's introduction, with footnote references removed: Since Kim and President Trump’s first summit in Singapore in June 2018, however, little progress has been made on denuclearization, despite two more Kim-Trump meetings (a February 2019 summit…
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Electoral College math

Electoral College math

In the Electoral College, residents of different states have widely varying influence. When thinking about the desirability of the Electoral College for electing a president, the arithmetic should be considered. I have performed a few calculations, gathering state populations and the number of Electoral College votes. Here are the two extremes: In Wyoming, there are 192,579 people for each Electoral College vote (577,737 / 3). In Texas, the number is 755,312. That's a difference of 3.92, which is a lot, I would say. For Kansas, the number is 485,251. The average value for a state (weighting all states equally) is…
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