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Your tax dollars at work

Your tax dollars at work

Republicans have tax cuts and Democrats have social spending as buzzwords for debating the federal budget. Neither side has a thoroughgoing economic policy. One reason: There's not a lot of room for slicing and dicing the federal pie when discretionary spending makes up a fraction of the proposed $3 trillion budget. Mandatory spending (for programs like Social Security and Medicare) will make up 53 percent of all spending for fiscal year 2009. With 8 percent going to cover interest on the national debt, what's left can look like small change.