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Federal budget fine print: $85 million to inspect eggs, more for OMB

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AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

(Read caption) House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and the committee's ranking Democrat Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., refer to President Barack Obama's fiscal 2012 federal budget during a hearing in Washington Tuesday.

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What’s the budget for white House budget preparation? It’s about $92 million. At least that’s the appropriation for the presidential Office of Management and Budget (OMB), whose main job is to prepare and manage the executive branch budget plans.

How many people are eligible for Pentagon-provided health care? About 9 million, when you add together active-duty troops, their family members, and retirees.
How much does the United States spend inspecting (chicken) “egg plants”? About $85 million – less than OMB’s stipend, we might add.

And where do we find bits of trivia such as these? In the budget appendix, a dictionary-sized tome whose annual arrival Washington wonks celebrate as an early sign of spring.

The budget appendix is where you find out what’s really going on. It’s part of the budget proposal materials the White House submits to Congress every year. News reports focus on the budget top lines – the $3.7 trillion in total 2012 spending that President Obama just requested, and so on. The appendix shows you what’s beneath – far, far beneath. It notes the line-item spending for virtually everything the US government does.

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