The federal budget is overwhelmingly eaten up by 3 things: Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid, and Defense, and all in roughly equal measure. If there was a mass of useless bureaucracy that could easily be washed away that would make any significant dent in the budget, you can bet it would have been by now.
Let's take a look at the staff of the federal government, since in matters not related to Social Security and Medicare, much of what the government pays for is people: people to calculate tax revenue, people to analyze data, people to go enforce rules. Lucky for us, the federal government provides a handy dandy outline of what its staff looks like.
Notice anything interesting?
There are 1.9 million people employed by the federal government, not including the Postal Service or soldiers. Of those, 1.1 million of them work for the Dept. of Defense, Veterans' Affairs, or Homeland Security. That's 58% of the entire federal government. And that does not include enlisted men and women!
Put another way, including the 1,421,000 active duty personnel, there are over 2.5 million people employed by the Depts. of Defense, Veterans' Affairs, and Homeland Security compared to 329,000 in all other areas of the federal government. There are more than 7 times as many people working in national defense as there are elsewhere.
And I didn't include the other 848,000 people in the reserves.
The Dept. of Education, every conservative's favorite target for elimination? 4,000 people. The evil, evil Dept. of Housing and Urban Development? 9,000 people. NASA? 18,000 people.
But remember, kids, the only way to balance the budget is with steep cuts to Social Security!