You Ask, We Answer: Why Doesn't the Government Publish These Numbers?

A few weeks ago I was on the radio program Background Briefing with host Ian Masters. We were talking about National Priorities Project's Tax Day numbers, which show you how the federal government spent every penny of your income taxes in 2011.

"One sort of wishes the federal government provided these numbers," my host lamented.

In fact, the White House used to put out a Citizen's Guide to the Federal Budget every year, but it was discontinued during the George W. Bush presidency. President Obama has not resurrected the practice. Meanwhile, valuable information about how the federal government spends our tax dollars is going extinct, as my colleague Becky Sweger wrote in a guest blog for the Sunlight Foundation. The House of Representatives recently passed the DATA Act (DATA stands for Digital Accountability and Transparency Act), sponsored by Rep. Darrell Issa (R- CA). Our team at NPP is hugely in support of the DATA Act; it would help us do our job better by ensuring public access to more – and more accurate – federal spending data.

We don't know what will happen with the DATA Act in the Senate, but some time ago my colleague Chris Hellman came up with a great idea: Since the White House no longer puts out the Citizen's Guide, someone else should publish a plain-language guide to the federal budget. So it's with great pride that we announce A People's Guide to the Federal Budget – our new book! It will be on bookshelves across the country in a couple weeks. In the meantime, help move the DATA Act through the Senate – the Washington Watch blog tells you how.

A People's Guide to the Federal Budget