Mandatory spending priorities include social security and Medicare, the Supplementary Nutritional Assistance Program and transportation. "Mandatory spending makes up nearly two-thirds of the total federal budget. Social Security alone comprises more than a third of mandatory spending and around 23 percent of the total federal budget. Medicare makes up an additional 23 percent of mandatory spending and 15 percent of the total federal budget," reports the National Priorities Project.
Education spending accounts for six percent of discretionary spending, and additional spending on Medicare and health accounts for another six percent.
Most Americans aren't covered through the government, though: They must pay for health insurance themselves or, if they obtain coverage through the Affordable Care Act exchanges and they qualify, with the help of subsidies. "Public health insurance, such as Medicare and Medicaid, accounts for 27 percent of coverage," reports Bloomberg.
Government involvement in paying for health insurance has been shown to both lower prices and help citizens live longer: "The 10 countries with the highest life expectancy depend on voluntary insurance for an average of less than six percent of their costs, and government spending for nearly half."
Many of the other programs covered by discretionary spending also help vulnerable populations but not the country at large. Those include "the early childhood education program Head Start (included in Housing & Community), Title I grants to disadvantaged schools and Pell grants for low-income college students (Education), food assistance for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), training and placement for unemployed people provided by Workforce Investment Boards (in Social Security, Unemployment and Labor)," reports the National Priorities Project.
Perhaps that's why so many Americans, as well as the president, feel that Americans pay more than anyone else in taxes: Because while many U.S. residents pay nearly as much, or in some cases more, than our neighbors to the north, Canadians in general can get so much more in exchange.
This article has been revised and updated.
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