This post builds on an excellent post by Mark Perry. Money quote: "... the federal government has become an entitlements machine. As a day-to-day operation, it devotes more attention and resources to the public transfer of money, goods and services to individual citizens than to any other objective, spending more than for all other ends combined."
Mark's charts show the composition of federal spending and taxes as a share of total spending and total taxes; mine show them as a % of GDP. Note the relatively low level of defense spending today, even though it includes all the costs of foreign wars. Defense spending is dwarfed by transfer payments.