NPP Trade-Offs Notes and Sources

NPP’s Trade-offs allows citizens to see how funds were spent throughout the year, test out different spending choices, and, if they choose, to advocate for different priorities.

Federal program costs show lump sums for how much the government spent on various programs such as the Department of Defense or the National Endowment for the Humanities. These can then be reallocated to “trade-offs” that show more specific spending choices such as Head Start slots or VA medical care for veterans.

Current trade-offs are for the FY 2020 budget and in 2020 dollars, unless otherwise specified.

1. Federal Program Costs

Unless otherwise noted, the source for these projected program costs are for the fiscal year and are from the Budget Authority data put out annually by the White House Office of Management and Budget and found here (scroll down to the Public Budget Database section and click Budget Authority).

Program costs reflect total spending estimates (discretionary and mandatory) for Fiscal Year 2020 and are in 2020 dollars. Please note that in some cases reported program costs are not mutually exclusive and therefore not cannot be added together; for instance, F-35 program costs are also included in the larger Military budget.

Military

From budget authority for subfunctions: 051, 053, 054, 152. This includes the Department of Defense regular and war budgets, nuclear weapons activities, and international security assistance.

The amounts for 1% and 10% of the military budget are simply 1% and 10% of the total budget number.

Total Cost of Post-9/11 Wars

As estimated by Brown University's Watson Institute's Costs of War in their September 2021 report, total war-related spending from 2001 through fiscal year 2022, including estimated obligations for veterans’ care, is $8.043 trillion.

F-35 Joint Strike Fighter

As reported for FY 2018 spending in the Department of Defense Program Acquisition Cost by Weapons System as part of the Department of Defense FY 2020 budget request. This reflects the research and production costs of the F-35 program, but does not include costs related to aircraft that have already been purchased, such as maintenance and pilot training. This number is also part of the military total.

Federal Prison System

From the budget authority for the Bureau "Federal Prison System."

Immigration and Border Enforcement

From the budget authority for bureaus "U.S. Customs and Border Protection" and "U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement."

Nuclear Weapons and Associated Costs

Budget authority subfunction 53 (Atomic energy defense activities), including maintaining the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile, powering naval ship reactors, and coordinating nuclear response and nonproliferation activities. This spending is also part of the military total.

Predator and Reaper Drones

As reported for FY 2018 spending in the Department of Defense Program Acquisition Cost by Weapons System as part of the Department of Defense FY 2020 budget request. This reflects the research, production and modification costs of the drone programs, as well as fielding of Reaper aircraft and ground stations. It does not include related costs such as pilot training or mission costs. This spending is also part of the military total.

Military Contractors

Includes "Contractual services & supplies" awarded by the Department of Defense in FY 2018, according to the USASpending.gov site, accessed March 20, 2019.

Lockheed Martin

Includes the most recent available data for "dollars obligated" reported for FY 2017 for all Department of Defense (DoD) contracts for  "Lockheed Martin Corporation" from the "Top 100 Contractors Report" of the Federal Procurement Data System, as of March 20, 2019.

Boeing

Includes the most recent available data for "dollars obligated" reported for FY 2017 for all Department of Defense (DoD) contracts for  "The Boeing Company" from the "Top 100 Contractors Report" of the Federal Procurement Data System, as of March 20, 2019.

2. Local Percentages of Federal Income Taxes

To estimate how much each state, county, city and congressional district contributes to each of the federal programs above, NPP assigns each geography a percentage that represents the area’s share of the total U.S. income tax bill.

States

To assign the state percentages, we use state-level data from the IRS’s Individual Master File System. Specifically, Historic Table 2: Individual Income and Tax Data, by State and Size of Adjusted Gross Income, Tax Year 2012http://www.irs.gov/uac/SOI-Tax-Stats-Historic-Table-2 [i].

To get the percentage for each state, we divide its Income tax amount by the US Income tax amount [ii].

Zip Code Tabulation Area (ZCTA)

Zip code tabulation areas (ZCTAs) are the Census Bureau’s version of postal service zip codes. The basis for all sub-state multipliers is ZCTA rather than the USPS zip code, because ZCTAs can be allocated to other geographic areas of interest, such as congressional districts and counties.

To determine the percentage of total federal individual income tax contributed by each ZCTA, we start with Individual Income Tax ZIP Code Data compiled by the IRS: http://www.irs.gov/uac/SOI-Tax-Stats-Individual-Income-Tax-Statistics-ZIP-Code-Data-(SOI) [iii]. We use tax year 2012 numbers.

To get the percentage of total taxes paid for each ZCTA, we do the following:

  1. Convert the U.S. Postal Service zip codes on the IRS report to their corresponding ZCTAs using this crosswalk file.
  2. Sum column A06500 (Income Tax Paid After Credits) of the IRS report by ZCTA ii.
  3. For each ZCTA, divide the amount paid (from step 2) by the total U.S. income taxes [iv].

Counties, Places, and Congressional Districts

The Individual Income Tax ZIP Code Data is also the basis for the county, place, and congressional district taxes paid.  To get those numbers, we follow steps 1 and 2 above. Then we match the ZCTAs with county, place, and 113th congressional district boundaries using the Missouri Census Data Center’s MABLE Geographic Correspondence Engine with Census 2010 Geography .

MABLE maps each ZCTA to a county or counties. Separate downloads do the same thing for places and congressional districts. When a ZCTA covers more than one county, place, or congressional district, MABLE provides an allocation to describe how much of the ZCTA belongs to each. This allocation is Census 2010 population-based.

For example, consider ZCTA 19317 in Pennsylvania. According to MABLE, 45% of the 19317 population live in Chester County, and 55% live in Delaware.  Therefore, when determining the income taxes paid for each county, 45% of the 19317 amount will be assigned to Chester, and 55% will be assigned to Delaware.

Once we have the allocations from MABLE, we do the following calculations three times—once each for counties, places, and congressional districts.

  1. For each ZCTA, multiply the taxes paid (from the ZCTA-summarized IRS data) by the allocation percentage for its corresponding counties/places/congressional districts.
  2. Summarize the results by county/places/congressional district to get the total income taxes paid for that area.
  3. Divide each area’s total taxes by the total U.S. income taxes. This number is the sum of column A06500 in the original IRS taxes by zip code file.

3. Trade-Off Costs

We get the yearly costs of the trade-offs from the following sources. 

Adults Receiving Low-Income Healthcare

Adults receiving low-income healthcare for one year is based on Medicaid spending per full-benefit enrollee for adults, generally people age 19 to 64, analyzed by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) based on data from the Preliminary CY 2019 Transformed Medicaid Statistical Information System (T-MSIS). The data year is 2019.

Clean Energy Jobs Created

According to “Job Opportunity Cost of War,” a 2017 report by Heidi Garrett-Peltier at the Costs of War Project at Brown University, every $1 million in spending on clean energy (50% retrofits, 25% each solar and wind) would yield 5.8 jobs with direct spending. $1 million divided by 5.8 equals $172,414 per job in direct spending. This data is from Table A1: Employment Multipliers Per $1 Million Spending, based on 2015 data. Table A1 also notes that each $1 million in spending on clean energy jobs would yield an additional 4 jobs indirectly, for a total of 9.8 jobs supported directly and indirectly for $1 million in spending.

Children Receiving Low-Income Healthcare

Children receiving low-income healthcare for one year is based on Medicaid spending per full-benefit enrollee for children, generally people age 18 and younger, analyzed by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) based on data from the Preliminary CY 2019 Transformed Medicaid Statistical Information System (T-MSIS). The data year is 2019.

Coronavirus Vaccines

According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Medicare payment rates for COVID-19 vaccine shots are approximately $40 for single-dose vaccines. For vaccines requiring multiple doses, each dose in the series is approximately $40, including any additional doses and booster doses. These costs are up to date as of February 4, 2022.

According to calculations distributed by Public Citizen, a program to mass-produce enough vaccine doses at scale to vaccinate most of the world's population, at just over $3 per dose, would require an investment of $25.2 billion.

Elementary School Teachers for One Year

Teacher salary information comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates. The average annual compensation of an elementary school teacher (SOC code 252021) for each state is inflated by an additional 40% to approximate the cost of things like health insurance and pension contributions by their employer.  The data year is 2020.

Head Start Slots for Children for One Year

Head Start promotes school readiness for children in low-income families by offering educational, nutritional, health, social, and other services. Head Start slot costs are calculated by dividing the total federal Head Start funding in each state by the total number of funded enrollments. The data are for fiscal year 2019 and come from the Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center of the Administration for Children and Families.

Households with Renewable Electricity – Solar Photovoltaic for One Year

Households powered by solar photovoltaic energy are calculated by taking the average monthly kilowatt hour usage of households in each state from the Energy Information Administration (Summary Table 5.a, 2020 Residential average monthly bill by Census Division, and State), multiplying by 12 to get annual average usage, and multiplying by the cost of solar photovoltaic energy from the Levelized Cost of New Generation Resources in the Annual Energy Outlook 2020 (Table 1b – Estimated unweighted levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) and levelized cost of storage (LCOS) for new resources entering service in 2026 (2020 dollars per megawatt/hour), converted to kilowatts/hour). The cost of solar energy, $32.78 per megawatt-hour, is based on the “Total system LCOE” before subsidies for solar, standalone, which is assumed to be photovoltaic (PV) with single-axis tracking. The data year is 2020.

Households with Renewable Electricity – Wind Power for One Year

Households powered by wind energy are calculated by taking the average monthly kilowatt hour usage of households in each state from the Energy Information Administration (Summary Table 5.a, 2020 Residential average monthly bill by Census Division, and State), multiplying by 12 to get annual average usage, and multiplying by the cost of wind, onshore, energy from the Levelized Cost of New Generation Resources in the Annual Energy Outlook 2020 (Table 1b – Estimated unweighted levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) and levelized cost of storage (LCOS) for new resources entering service in 2026 (2020 dollars per megawatt/hour), converted to kilowatts/hour). The cost of wind energy, $36.93 per megawatt-hour, is based on the “Total LCOE” before subsidies for Onshore Wind, which is a measure of the total relative cost of utility-scale wind power generation. The data year is 2020.

Jobs That Pay $15 Per Hour with Benefits

The Fight for $15 demands that the federal minimum wage be raised to a minimum living wage of $15 per hour.

Each full time, full-year job paying $15 per hour with an allowance of an additional 40% for benefits costs $43,680 per year.

Military Veterans Receiving VA Medicare Care

The average cost to provide military veterans with Veterans Affairs (VA) medical care is based on the state's total VA medical care expenditures divided by the state's total number of unique patients based on data from the National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics. Medical Care expenditures include dollars for medical services, medical administration, facility maintenance, educational support, research support, and other overhead items.  Medical Care expenditures do not include dollars for construction or other non-medical support. The data year is 2020.

N95 Respirator Masks

In 2020, 3M listed pricing for the most common N95 respirator mask models between $0.64 - $3.40 per mask. We chose the most expensive price for this trade-off.

Public Housing Units

Assistance provided under the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) programs falls into three categories: public housing, tenant-based, and privately owned, project-based. HUD's data on Assisted Housing: National and Local includes a cost average for spending per month per unit across all HUD programs. This data is for the “Public Housing” program for the year 2021, based on the 2010 census. The spending per month data is available for the U.S. Total and by State. The trade-off cost for 1 year is calculated by multiplying the spending per month x 12 months. Average spending per month across all public housing units in the United States is $701, which is $8,412 for 1 year.

Registered Nurses for One Year

Registered nurse salary information comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates. The average annual compensation of a registered nurse (SOC code 29-1141) for each state is inflated by an additional 40% to approximate the cost of things like health insurance and pension contributions by their employer.  The data year is 2020.

Scholarships for University Students

The scholarship figures come from the average cost for an in-state student's tuition and fees (excluding room and board) at a 4-year public university for the 2019-2020 academic year. The data are obtained from the National Center for Education Statistics Digest of Education Statistics (Table 330.20).


FOOTNOTES

i This site uses income tax numbers to approximate each locality's contribution to the designated programs, which are funded by federal funds.

ii Income tax amount reflects income taxes owed after the deduction of non-refundable credits. The amount has not been reflected to adjust for the earned income credit or for refundable credits such as the health coverage credit, and additional child tax credit. A complete list of these refundable credits is on the payments section of the 1040.

iii To protect individual identities, some returns and zip codes are excluded from IRS zip code-level reports. See the IRS documentation for details (MS Word doc).

iv For the few ZCTAs that contain two states, we assign the ZCTA to the state that contains most of its population. This assignment doesn’t change the trade-offs calculations—if affects only how the user would search for that ZCTA/”city”.