Where Does the Money Go?

government spending
The Federal government spends more than it takes in.. Photo: Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

Where Does the Money Go? Your Guide to the Federal Budget Crisis by Scott Bittle and Jean Johnson. 332 pages.

Every American should read this book. It provides an enjoyable and easy-to-understand explanation of probably the most important issue the U.S. economy faces - the looming $9 trillion debt. The book covers how it was created, what will happen if nothing is done, and what the reader can do to effect change.

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  • Provides an excellent explanation of the U.S. Debt and Deficit.
  • Easy and enjoyable to read.
  • A very timely book about a very important issue that is not being covered as it should.
  • Provides lots of data to support its arguments. Not just the authors' opinions.
  • Gives the reader lots of other resources to research the topic further.


  • If you are already familiar with the issue, it may seem repetitive.
  • At over 300 pages, the length might put off some readers.
  • Some readers might think it is a little glib for such an important topic.


  • Chapter 1. The Six Points You Need to Know to Understand the Federal Budget Crisis.
  • Chapter 2. So What's the Worst That Could Happen? Chapter 3. A Little Clarification Is in Order
  • Chapter 4. The Tax Tour (or, Money Comes...) Chapter 5. And Money Goes.
  • Chapter 6. Social Security and Medicare. Chapter 7.If You Think Social Security is Bad, Wait till You Meet Medicare
  • Chapter 8. Glib Answers to a Tough Problem. Chapter 9. Do We Have to Throw Granny out on the Street?
  • Chapter 10. Waste Not, Want Not. Chapter 11. The Liberals and the Conservatives.Chapter 12. Politics, as Usual.
  • Chapter 13. Has K Street Become Washington's Main Street? Chapter 14. 2010 - the High Noon of Budget Politics.
  • Chapter 15. Tackling the Long-Term Problem One Bite at a Time.
  • Chapter 17. The "Where Does the Money Go?" Voter Protection Kit.
  • Chapter 18. The Last Word: Six Realities We Need to Accept to Solve This Problem.

Guide Review - Where Does the Money Go?

This book does a great job in explaining how our country amassed a (at that time) $9 trillion debt. In so doing, it also manages to explain fiscal policy, trade, the current account deficit, as well as budget spending and taxes. It uses humor to make this complicated topic relevant. For example, it asks "Who is in worse financial shape, Uncle Sam or Michael Jackson?" and then compares the government to the King of Pop.

It also describes many common beliefs that people have about the budget and explains why they are inaccurate. For example, it explains why ending the war in Iraq won't create a balanced budget. It discusses the looming Social Security shortfall, and clarifies this complicated issue into two statements: Social Security needs to remain, and it will have to change because we can't pay for it as is.

This book uses a lot of visuals to great effect. It uses charts and tables to clearly illustrate the data, such as the pie chart that shows how much of the federal budget goes towards Social Security and Medicare (30%). It also uses photos to bring home emotional points - I love the picture of George Bailey in "It's a Wonderful Life" to illustrate the point that we may all be living in Pottersville if the debt isn't straightened out.

Last, but certainly not least, this book has lots of pop quizzes,stories, history lessons, and references to popular culture to keep the reader's interest during detailed explanations. It even uses quotes from Seinfeld to illustrate a point about corporate write-offs.

In short, this book is the answer to those of you who think you don't need to do anything about the economic issues because it's "over your heads". You now have no excuse...and time is running out.

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