But this answer is too narrow. In 2006, according to the Office of Management and Budget, the federal government will spend more than three times as much on its "human resources" functions ($1.7 trillion) as it will on "national defense" functions ($535.9 billion). As defined by OMB, "human resources" spending includes such things as education, training, employment, social services and health programs, as well as Medicare and Social Security.
If it is reasonable to assume that many of the relatively wealthy Americans who live in suburban Washington are slopping at the trough of federal defense spending, it is also reasonable to assume many are slopping at the trough of non-defense spending. After all, there's more slop in that trough.
While it did not directly answer the question, the Census study did provide some evidence of why so many people are so well paid in Washington's suburbs. You see, you don't have to be a federal contractor or lobbyist to make a lot of money off the taxpayers. You can work for the government itself.
The Census Bureau calculated the median earnings of self-employed owners of their own businesses, as well as the median earnings of employees of private companies, nonprofit organizations, and state, local and federal governments. Only male self-employed owners of their own incorporated businesses had higher median earnings ($58,468) than either male ($54,054) or female ($46,849) federal employees.
Male employees of private companies, whose median earnings were $41,038, lagged behind male employees of nonprofits ($42,875), state governments (45,698), local governments ($45,788) and the federal government ($54,054). The median earnings of women working for the federal government ($46,849) exceeded by more than $16,000 the median income of women working for private companies ($30,824).
Indeed, if a husband and wife both worked for the federal government and both earned the median income for federal government workers of their gender, their household income would be $100,903. That would put them above the median household income even in the nation's wealthiest counties -- that is, even in suburban Washington.
The next time a liberal tells you cutting taxes is a break for the rich, tell them they have it backward. The taxes we pay go to the rich -- in places like loudoun County.