In 2009, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the top 1 percent of income earners earned 13.4 percent of income in the U.S., but paid 22.3 percent of all federal taxes. Given that the government collected $2.1 trillion of revenue in 2009, this would translate into roughly $468 billion in taxes paid by the top 1 percent. That same year, according to the CBO, the federal government spent $87 billion on transportation and water infrastructure. Put another way, the taxes paid by the top 1 percent in 2009 were more than five times what the federal government spent on infrastructure that year — which includes some stimulus spending.

The reason the federal government couldn’t spend more than $87 billion on infrastructure was that most tax dollars were tied up paying for major entitlement programs. In 2009, spending on Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment insurance and other mandatory welfare state programs gobbled up more than 99 percent of tax revenue collected by the federal government. That left just $12 billion to spend on infrastructure, education, national defense and all other federal programs before the federal government had to rack up more debt.