US government spending by the numbers

The Heritage Foundation has produced a very useful report on where our tax dollars are being spent by the Obama administration.  Here’s an excerpt.

Deficits fell in 2013 because President Obama and Congress raised taxes on all Americans, the economy saw slight improvement which helped to bring in more revenue, and spending cuts from sequestration and spending caps under the Budget Control Act of 2011 took effect.

The nation should not take this short-term and modest deficit improvement as a signal to grow complacent about reining in exploding spending. Though deficits will decline for a few more years, existing spending cuts and tax increases will not prevent them from rising soon, and within a decade exceeding $1 trillion once again. Driving this is federal spending which, despite sequestration cuts, will grow 69 percent by 2023.

The nation’s long-term spending trajectory remains on a fiscal collision course. Total spending has exploded by 40 percent since 2002, even after inflation. Some programs have grown far in excess of that. Defense, however, has been slashed. Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Obamacare are so large and growing that they are on track to overwhelm the federal budget. While the Budget Control Act of 2011 and sequestration are modestly restraining the discretionary budget, mandatory spending—including entitlements—continues growing nearly unabated. Without any changes, mandatory spending, including net interest, will consume three-fourths of the budget in just one decade.

Obamacare will add $1.8 trillion to federal health care spending by 2023. By 2015, health care spending will overtake Social Security as the largest budget item, including Obamacare’s coverage expansion provisions: a massive expansion of Medicaid and subsidies for the new health insurance exchanges.

. . .

The Federal Budget

  • Washington will spend nearly $3.5 trillion in 2013 while collecting $2.8 trillion in revenues, resulting in a deficit of $642 billion.
  • Over the past 20 years, federal spending grew 63 percent faster than inflation.
  • Mandatory spending, including Social Security and means-tested entitlements, doubled after adjusting for inflation. Discretionary spending grew by 49 percent.
  • Despite publicly held debt surging to three-fourths the size of the economy (as measured by GDP), net interest costs have fallen as interest rates have dropped to historic lows.
  • In 1963, defense spending was 9 percent of GDP and mandatory spending on entitlement programs was 6.1 percent of GDP, one-third lower.
  • In 2013, spending on defense is at about 4 percent of GDP and falling, while mandatory spending (including net interest) is reaching 14.5 percent of GDP and growing.

There’s more at the link, including many graphic representations of spending.  These two in particular caught my eye.

There are many more.  Go read them for yourself – and then note House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s comment that as far as the federal budget is concerned, “The cupboard is bare. There’s no more cuts to make.

Personally, I reckon I could cut 25% in every single federal government department except Defense, and still find more areas to cut when I was done!  As for almost a trillion dollars a year in welfare spending, take the axe to it!  There’s far too much luxury in that spending, and far too little emphasis on providing the bare essentials, but making people work for the extras.



  1. The mandatory spending of Social Security, Medicare, interest on the debt, etc. by itself accounts for more than we take in through taxes. That means that there is nothing left for all of the other functions of government, including defense. There is no way that we will balance our budget without cutting those programs, but cutting Social Security and Medicare is the surest way for a politician to end his career. For that fact alone, the system is doomed to fail.

    However, we can afford to cut defense as well. We spend more on defense than every other country combined, and out spend our next closest rival (China ) by a 6-1 margin. We can afford to make cuts here.

    For starters, we can close many of the overseas bases. We currently have troops in 150 countries around the world, not counting forces afloat.

    In Germany alone, we have 47,000 troops, while Germany itself has a military of only 62,000. This means we provide nearly half of Germany's defense. We provide almost all of Japan's defense. Nearly 1 in five US soldiers is stationed in Germany, Japan, or South Korea.

    That needs to end. We can't borrow money to be the world's police department.

  2. It's not complicated. It's no longer a political problem, it's an arithmetic problem. All the "mandatory" spending programs need to be cut. All the discretionary programs need to be cut. Federal pay needs to be cut. Across the board, everywhere, everything, needs to be seriously paired down. The Fed needs to be declared bankrupt, the bonds it holds written off, and the more manageable debt levels will allow interest rates to rise to a market number we can still afford. Then going forward, we spend no more than we collect in taxes. Most programs like disability need to be made "percentages" of the total budget, and if more people are added to the rolls, then the checks cut for each of them will be reduced accordingly; THAT will encourage them to police their own.

  3. Let's start with the LCS and F-35. And major trimming of the redundant food aid programs and administrations (fed and state level). After those get chopped, we can talk.


  4. There is a name for this. It's the Cloward-Piven strategy:

    "The Cloward–Piven strategy is a political strategy outlined in 1966 by American sociologists and political activists Richard Cloward and Frances Fox Piven that called for overloading the U.S. public welfare system in order to precipitate a crisis that would lead to a replacement of the welfare system with a national system of "a guaranteed annual income and thus an end to poverty". Cloward and Piven were a married couple who were both professors at the Columbia University School of Social Work. The strategy was formulated in a May 1966 article in liberal[1] magazine The Nation titled "The Weight of the Poor: A Strategy to End Poverty"

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