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Steve Ballmer onstage at the 2018 New York Times Dealbook. Photo: Michael Cohen/Getty Images

Steve Ballmer's USAFacts is out with its third annual report looking at the world through the eyes of government data. His nonprofit is founded on the belief that, armed with more details, voters will be able to make better decisions.

The bottom line: Rising federal deficits, soaring health care costs, lowering life expectancies, and rising fire suppression costs are among the report's main findings.

Details:

  • Rising deficits: "Prior to passage of the (tax reform) law in 2017, the federal government took in $3.2 trillion in taxes while running a $665 billion deficit. According to estimates from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), deficits could increase over the next ten years by $1.1–2.3 trillion, depending on economic growth."
  • Health costs soar but life expectancies don't: "We spend $2.9 trillion, or $9,107 per person, on healthcare in the United States, an increase of 59% since 1999. Over this same period, however, we haven’t seen improvements in our life expectancy.
  • Fire costs surging: In 2018, total federal government expenditures for fire suppression costs reached a record $3 billion in 2018, a nearly 100% increase over 2008. And that pales to the broader economic impact to affected communities.

What they're saying:

"It seems like such a simple thing to bring together the data produced by our own government so we can get a clear picture of how we are doing as a country — but the reality is no one agency is tasked with it, and a lot of it is hard to find."
"We know the solutions to the challenges we identify in this annual report will be the subject of hot debate, but we should all be able to see the facts and agree that these are the challenges.”
USAFacts founder Steve Ballmer, to Axios

Go deeper

Updated 51 mins ago - Energy & Environment

Bomb cyclone prompts blizzard warnings from Virginia to Maine

Computer model projection showing the intense storm off of Cape Cod on Jan 29, 2022, with heavy snow and strong winds lashing the coastline. (Weatherbell.com)

Blizzard warnings are in effect for 11 million people from coastal Virginia to eastern Maine as a historic winter storm is set to slam the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast beginning Friday.

Why it matters: The storm will bring hazards ranging from zero visibility amid hurricane force wind gusts and heavy snow, to coastal flooding that will erode vulnerable beaches and threaten property from the Jersey shore to coastal Massachusetts.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Contact tracing fizzles across America — New clues emerge on long COVID — Omicron is finally burning out — It's very difficult to get access to antiviral COVID treatments — Axios-Ipsos poll: Omicron's big numbersAnother wave of death — FDA limits use of Regeneron and Lilly antibody treatments.
  2. Vaccines: Pfizer begins clinical trial for Omicron-specific vaccine — The shifting definition of fully vaccinated.
  3. Politics: Virginia AG says public colleges can't mandate COVID vaccines —Alaska governor joins Texas lawsuit over National Guard vaccine mandate — Navy discharges 45 sailors for refusing vaccine — Spotify to remove Neil Young's music after his Joe Rogan ultimatum — White House: 60M households have ordered free COVID-19 rapid tests.
  4. World: U.K. to lift travel testing requirement for fully vaccinated — Beijing Olympic Committee lowers testing threshold ahead of Games.
  5. Variant tracker
4 hours ago - World

Biden will move U.S. troops to Eastern Europe "in the near term"

President Biden boards Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews on Jan. 28. Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden said on Friday he plans to move U.S. troops to Eastern European and NATO countries “in the near term.”

Driving the news: “Not too many” U.S. troops, Biden added in remarks to reporters at Joint Base Andrew upon returning from a trip to Pennsylvania.