The latest tussle concerns a fiscal 2008 appropriations bill for three departments: Education, Labor, and Health and Human Services. The difference between Congress and the White House on this is $21 billion, figures the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), a Washington think tank. That's about 5 percent of all domestic appropriations, 1.8 percent of all federal discretionary spending ($1.14 trillion, a sum that includes defense spending), and far less than 1 percent of the $2.9 trillion total budget...That's a lot of numbers. Here's what's missing: the actual size of the bill itself. You can compare the dispute to a lot of things: GDP, tax revenues, or the market capitalization of Coca-Cola - but that still omits the single most relevant percentage in the debate: 15%.
According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (cited by the author), the President proposed $140.9 billion in spending. The disputed $21 billion represents a 15 percent increase over that proposal - far beyond any measure of U.S. inflation. Especially with the federal government operating at a deficit, a 15 percent increase in any area should be cause for concern. Anywhere outside of government, it would be outrageous.
Oddly enough, at $146.19 billion today, Coca-Cola's market capitalization is roughly equivalent to the appropriations bill discussed above.