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Introductory Notes

Data Sources

* Several U.S. government agencies—such as the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the Congressional Budget Office, the Census Bureau, and the White House Office of Management & Budget—publish measures of government spending. These sometimes differ from one another because of their accounting methods.[1] [2] [3]

* This research mainly uses data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis because it is the only primary source of comprehensive and timely data on government spending at all levels (federal, state, and local).[4] [5] [6]

* The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis presents most of its data on government spending in a measure called “current expenditures.” These account for about 98% of government “total expenditures.”[7] [8] [9]

* The figures in this research don’t account for:

  • spending due to laws and regulations that shift the costs of government social policies to the private sector.[10]
  • many tax preferences that have the same effects as government spending. However, the figures do account for a certain type of tax preference called “refundable personal tax credits.”[11] [12] [13] [14] [15]

* In keeping with Just Facts’ Standards of Credibility, all charts in this research show the full range of available data, and all facts are cited based upon availability and relevance, not to slant results by singling out specific years that are different from others.


Mandatory Spending

* Federal government agencies sometimes divide federal spending into two main categories:

  1. “Mandatory” outlays are often funded by laws that require spending to continue indefinitely unless Congress and the president pass new laws to change the status quo. Most mandatory spending is for social insurance programs, means-tested welfare programs, and interest on the national debt.
  2. “Discretionary” outlays are often funded by laws that require spending for set periods of time (generally one year). Most discretionary spending is for national defense, energy, the environment, and certain social programs.[16] [17] [18] [19] [20]

* In 2019, the federal government spent:

  • 62% of its outlays on mandatory programs.
  • 30% of its outlays on discretionary programs.
  • 8% of its outlays on certain interest payments.[21]

Overview

Federal, State & Local

* In 2020, U.S. federal, state, and local governments spent a combined total of $9.1 trillion, or more precisely, $9,147,700,000,000.[22] This amounts to:

* From 1929 to 2020, inflation-adjusted federal, state and local government current expenditures per U.S. resident ranged from $1,052 to $27,037 per year, with a median of $11,937 and an average of $11,281. In 2020, they were $27,037, or 140% above the average:

Inflation-Adjusted Federal, State & Local Current Expenditures Per Person

[26] [27] [28]

* From 1929 to 2020, federal, state and local government current expenditures ranged from 8.1% to 42.6% of the U.S. economy, with a median of 30.5% and an average of 27.8%. In 2020, they were 42.6%, or 53% above the average:

Federal, State & Local Current Expenditures as a Portion of the U.S. Economy

[29] [30] [31]


Federal

* In 2020, the U.S. federal government spent $6.9 trillion, or more precisely, $6,932,700,000,000.[32] This amounts to:

* From 1929 to 2020, inflation-adjusted federal government current expenditures per U.S. resident ranged from $359 to $20,628 per year, with a median of $8,128 and an average of $7,648. In 2020, they were $20,628, or 170% above the average:

Inflation-Adjusted Federal Government Current Expenditures Per Person

[36] [37] [38]

* From 1929 to 2020, federal government current expenditures ranged from 2.8% to 32.5% of the U.S. economy, with a median of 20.2% and an average of 18.9%. In 2020, they were 32.5% or 72% above the average:

Federal Government Current Expenditures as a Portion of the U.S. Economy

[39] [40] [41]


State & Local

* Excluding federal grants (which are counted under federal spending), state and local governments spent $2.2 trillion in 2020, or more precisely, $2,215,000,000,000.[42] This amounts to:

* From 1929 to 2020, inflation-adjusted state and local government current expenditures per U.S. resident ranged from $693 to $7,219 per year, with a median of $3,767 and an average of $3,633. In 2020, they were $6,408, or 76% above the average:

Inflation-Adjusted State & Local Government Current Expenditures Per Person

[46] [47]

* From 1929 to 2020, state and local government current expenditures ranged from 3.7% to 12.4% of the U.S. economy, with a median of 9.7% and an average of 8.9%. In 2020, they were 10.1%, or 13% above the average:

State & Local Government Current Expenditures as a Portion of the U.S. Economy

[48] [49] [50]

Functions

Federal, State & Local

* During 2019, U.S. federal, state, and local government current expenditures for:

  • social programs—including healthcare, income security, education, housing, and recreation—were $4,240 billion, or an average of $32,976 for every household in the U.S.
  • general government and debt service—including the executive & legislative branches, tax collection, financial management, and interest payments—were $1,199 billion, or an average of $9,325 for every household in the U.S.
  • national defense and veterans’ benefits were $878 billion, or an average of $6,829 for every household in the U.S.
  • public order and safety—including police, fire, law courts, prisons, and immigration enforcement—were $410 billion, or an average of $3,191 for every household in the U.S.
  • economic affairs—including transportation, general economic & labor affairs, agriculture, natural resources, energy, and space—were $373 billion, or an average of $2,904 for every household in the U.S.[51]
Per Household Federal, State & Local Government Current Expenditures by Function

[52]

* From 1959 to 2019, the portion of U.S. federal, state, and local government current expenditures that were spent on:

  • national defense and veterans’ benefits declined from 40% to 12%.
  • social programs rose from 30% to 60%.
  • general government and debt service rose from 17% to 25% and then declined to 17%.
  • economic affairs declined from 10% to 5%.
  • public order and safety rose from 3% to 6%.[53]
Government Current Expenditures by Function

[54]


Federal

* During 2019, federal government current expenditures for:

  • social programs—including healthcare, income security, education, housing, and recreation—were $2,947 billion, or an average of $22,920 for every household in the U.S.
  • national defense and veterans’ benefits were $879 billion, or an average of $6,833 for every household in the U.S.
  • general government and debt service—including the executive & legislative branches, tax collection, financial management, and interest payments—were $692 billion, or an average of $5,380 for every household in the U.S.
  • economic affairs—including transportation, general economic & labor affairs, agriculture, natural resources, energy, and space—were $174 billion, or an average of $1,355 for every household in the U.S.
  • public order and safety—including police, fire, law courts, prisons, and immigration enforcement—were $66 billion, or an average of $516 for every household in the U.S.[55]
Per Household Federal Government Current Expenditures by Function

[56]

* A scientific, nationally representative survey commissioned in 2019 by Just Facts found that 58% of voters believe the federal government spends more money on national defense than social programs.[57] [58] [59]

* From 1959 to 2019, the portion of federal government current expenditures that were spent on:

  • national defense and veterans’ benefits declined from 55% to 18%.
  • social programs rose from 20% to 62%.
  • general government and debt service rose from 17% to 25% and then declined to 15%.
  • economic affairs declined from 8% to 4%.
  • public order and safety rose from 0% to 1%.[60]
Federal Government Current Expenditures by Function

[61]


State & Local

* Excluding federal grants (which are counted under federal spending), in 2019 U.S. state and local government current expenditures for:

  • social programs—including healthcare, income security, education, housing, and recreation—were $1,293 billion, or an average of $10,055 for every household in the U.S.
  • general government and debt service—including the executive & legislative branches, tax collection, financial management, and interest payments—were $507 billion, or an average of $3,945 for every household in the U.S.
  • public order and safety—including police, fire, law courts, prisons, and immigration enforcement—were $344 billion, or an average of $2,675 for every household in the U.S.
  • economic affairs—including transportation, general economic & labor affairs, agriculture, natural resources, energy, and space—were $199 billion, or an average of $1,549 for every household in the U.S.[62]
Per Household State & Local Government Current Expenditures by Function (Sans Federal Grants)

[63]

* Excluding federal grants (which are counted under federal spending), from 1959 to 2019, the portion of U.S. state and local government current expenditures that were spent on:

  • social programs rose from 55% to 60% and then declined to 55%.
  • general government and debt service grew from 17% to 26% and then declined to 22%.
  • economic affairs declined from 16% to 9%.
  • public order and safety rose from 11% to 15%.[64]
State & Local Government Current Expenditures by Function (Sans Federal Grants)

[65]

Social Programs

* Government social programs provide healthcare, income security, education, nutrition, housing, and cultural services.[66] [67] [68] [69]

* Some government agencies include veterans’ benefits in their measures of social spending, but Just Facts counts these as spending for national defense because they are earned for serving in the Armed Forces.[70]


Federal, State & Local

* In 2019, U.S. federal, state, and local governments spent $4,240 billion on social programs.[71] This amounts to:


Federal

* In 2019, the U.S. federal government spent $2,947 billion on social programs.[73] This amounts to:


State & Local

* Excluding federal grants (which are counted under federal spending), in 2019 U.S. state and local governments spent $1,293 billion on social programs.[75] This amounts to:

General Government

* General government spending funds:

  • public services.
  • executive and legislative costs.
  • tax collection and financial management.
  • interest payments on government debt.[77]

Federal, State & Local

* In 2019, U.S. federal, state, and local governments spent $1,199 billion on general government and debt service.[78] This amounts to:


Federal

* In 2019, the U.S. federal government spent $692 billion on general government and debt service.[80] This amounts to:


State & Local

* Excluding federal grants (which are counted under federal spending), in 2019 U.S. state and local governments spent $507 billion on general government and debt service.[82] This amounts to:

National Defense

* National defense spending funds:

  • the U.S. Army, Navy, and Air Force.
  • state National Guard units and Reserve forces.
  • “many agencies, offices, and commands, including the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Pentagon Force Protection Agency, the National Security Agency, and the Defense Intelligence Agency.”[84]
  • veterans’ benefits.[85]

* In 2019, the U.S. federal government spent $879 billion on national defense.[86] This amounts to:

  • 12% of all federal, state, and local government current expenditures and 18% of all federal government current expenditures.
  • $2,677 for every person living in the U.S.
  • $6,833 for every household in the U.S.
  • 4.1% of the U.S. economy or gross domestic product.[87]

Public Order & Safety

* Government spending on public order and safety funds the police, fire protection, law courts, prisons, and immigration enforcement.[88] [89]


Federal, State & Local

* In 2019, U.S. federal, state, and local governments spent $410 billion on public order and safety.[90] This amounts to:


Federal

* In 2019, the U.S. federal government spent $66 billion on public order and safety.[92] This amounts to:


State & Local

* Excluding federal grants (which are counted under federal spending), in 2019 U.S. state and local governments spent $344 billion on public order and safety.[94] This amounts to:

Economic Affairs

* Government spending on economic affairs funds:

  • transportation via highways, air, water, mass transit, and railroads.
  • space exploration.
  • general economic and labor affairs.
  • agriculture, natural resources, and energy.
  • the postal service and other government enterprises.[96]

Federal, State & Local

* In 2019, U.S. federal, state, and local governments spent $373 billion on economic affairs.[97] This amounts to:


Federal

* In 2019, the U.S. federal government spent $174 billion on economic affairs.[99] This amounts to:


State & Local

* Excluding federal grants (which are counted under federal spending), in 2019 U.S. state and local governments spent $199 billion on economic affairs.[101] This amounts to:

Footnotes

[1] Webpage: “BEA Seems to Have Several Different Measures of Government Spending. What Are They for and What Do They Measure?” U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, May 28, 2010. Last modified 4/28/20. <www.bea.gov>

In addition to these [Bureau of Economic Analysis’s (BEA)] NIPA [National Income and Product Accounts] measures of government spending, other data on government spending include federal budget data and Census Government Finances data from the Census Bureau. These other measures use different concepts that result in differences in level, timing, and the composition of spending than the statistics shown in the NIPAs. The NIPA measures are often used by macroeconomists and others because of the consistency of concepts and definitions in the national accounts, which aid in forecasting the economy, taxes, and budgets. To facilitate such uses, the [White House] Office of Management and Budget and BEA each publish an annual reconciliation of the federal budget with the NIPA measures of federal spending (NIPA Table 3.18B).

[2] Report: “Fiscal Year 2013 Analytical Perspectives, Budget Of The U.S. Government.” White House Office of Management and Budget, February 12, 2012. <www.gpo.gov>

Page 471:

Federal transactions in the [Bureau of Economic Analysis’s] NIPAs [National Income and Product Accounts] are measured according to NIPA accounting concepts and as a result they differ from the [White House Office of Management & Budget’s] budget in netting and grossing, timing, and coverage. …

Over the period 1994–2010, NIPA current expenditures averaged 3.7 percent higher than budget outlays, while NIPA current receipts averaged 3.4 percent higher than budget receipts. Including capital transfers and net investment, NIPA total expenditures averaged 6.4 percent higher than budget outlays, while NIPA total receipts averaged 4.6 percent higher than budget receipts.

[3] Report: “Monthly Budget Review: Summary for Fiscal Year 2020.” Congressional Budget Office, November 9, 2020. <www.cbo.gov>

Page 1: “Net spending by the government was $6.6 trillion in 2020—$2.1 trillion (or 47 percent) more than in 2019. Outlays amounted to 31.2 percent of GDP in 2020, compared with 21.0 percent in 2019 and above the 50-year average of 20.6 percent.”

[4] Webpage: “Government Receipts and Expenditures.” U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, March 25, 2021. <www.bea.gov>

“Receipts and expenditures tables labeled ‘government’ combine federal, state, and local activities. Data also are produced for the federal government, and for state and local governments combined. BEA [Bureau of Economic Analysis] produces the only comprehensive estimates of state and local government activity available on a timely basis.”

[5] Report: “A Primer on BEA’s Government Accounts.” By Bruce E. Baker and Pamela A. Kelly. U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, March 2008. <apps.bea.gov>

Page 29: “The federal estimates in the NIPAs [National Income and Product Accounts] contain much of the same information as the Budget of the United States Government, although the information is classified differently. The state and local estimates in the NIPAs are the only comprehensive estimates of state and local government activity available on a timely basis.”

[6] Webpage: “BEA Seems to Have Several Different Measures of Government Spending. What Are They for and What Do They Measure?” U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, May 28, 2010. Last modified 4/28/20. <www.bea.gov>

“The [U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis’s (BEA)] NIPA [National Income and Product Accounts] measures [of government spending] are often used by macroeconomists and others because of the consistency of concepts and definitions in the national accounts, which aid in forecasting the economy, taxes, and budgets.”

[7] The Bureau of Economic Analysis presents its primary breakdown of government spending by function in current expenditures,† not total expenditures.‡ Also, the Bureau of Economic Analysis’s data on government current expenditures date back to 1929, while its data on total expenditures only date back to 1959.§

NOTES:

  • † Dataset: “Table 3.16. Government Current Expenditures by Function [Billions of Dollars].” U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last revised November 3, 2020. <www.bea.gov>
  • ‡ Email from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) to Just Facts, March 18, 2015. “BEA does not produce an estimate of government total expenditures by function as defined by the national income and product accounts (NIPAs).”
  • § Dataset: “Table 3.1. Government Current Receipts and Expenditures [Billions of Dollars].” U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last revised March 25, 2021. <www.bea.gov>

[8] “Current expenditures” include “all spending by government on current-period activities,” such as:

  • “consumption expenditures,” or “what government spends on its work force and for goods and services, such as fuel for military jets and rent for government buildings and other structures.”
  • “current transfer payments,” which consist of:
    • “social benefits,” or “payments from social insurance funds, such as social security and Medicare, and payments providing other income support, such as Medicaid and food stamp benefits.”
    • “grants-in-aid to state and local governments.”
    • “transfers to the rest of the world,” or “federal aid to foreign countries and payments to international organizations such as the United Nations.”
  • “interest payments,” or the costs “of borrowing by governments to finance their capital and operational costs.”
  • “subsidies,” or grants to businesses, other government entities, and homeowners.† ‡

“Total expenditures” include all current expenditures plus:

  • “gross investment,” or “what government spends on structures, equipment, and software, such as new highways, schools, and computers.” This also includes research expenditures.
  • “other capital-type expenditures that affect future-period activities,” such as payments to foreigners.
  • “net purchases of nonproduced assets,” such as land.† ‡ £

NOTES:

  • † Report: “A Primer on BEA’s Government Accounts.” By Bruce E. Baker and Pamela A. Kelly. U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, March 2008. <apps.bea.gov>. Page 34: “Current transfer payments. These consist of social benefits and other current transfer payments to the rest of the world. Social benefits are payments from social insurance funds, such as social security and Medicare, and payments providing other income support, such as Medicaid and food stamp benefits. Other current transfers to the rest of the world consists of federal aid to foreign countries and payments to international organizations such as the United Nations. Federal ‘other current transfer payments’ also includes grants-in-aid to state and local governments. … Interest payments. These represent the cost of borrowing by governments to finance their capital and operational costs. … Subsidies. These are payments to businesses, including homeowners and government enterprises at another level of government.”
  • ‡ Webpage: “FAQ: BEA Seems to Have Several Different Measures of Government Spending. What Are They for and What Do They Measure?” U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), May 28, 2010. Last modified 4/28/20. <www.bea.gov>. “Consumption expenditures include what government spends on its work force and for goods and services, such as fuel for military jets and rent for government buildings and other structures. Gross investment includes what government spends on structures, equipment, and software, such as new highways, schools, and computers. … Current expenditures measures all spending by government on current-period activities, and consists not only of government consumption expenditures, but also current transfer payments, interest payments, and subsidies (and removes wage accruals less disbursements §). … Total government expenditures: In addition to the transactions that are included in current expenditures, this measure includes gross investment (as defined earlier), and other capital-type expenditures that affect future-period activities, such as capital transfer payments and net purchases of nonproduced assets (for example, land).”#
  • § Email from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis to Just Facts, March 18, 2015. “Wage accruals less disbursements is no longer an adjustment that is needed in the accounts as BEA’s income estimates for wages were moved to an accrual basis during the 2013 comprehensive revision.”
  • # Webpage: “Glossary: Capital Transfers to the Rest of the World (Net).” U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last modified April 13, 2018. <www.bea.gov>. “Cash or in-kind transfers to foreigners that are linked to the acquisition or disposition of a fixed asset.”
  • £ Email from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis to Just Facts, June 19, 2015. “As of July 2013, research expenditures are included in the NIPAs [national income and product accounts] as investment.”

[9] Calculated with the dataset: “Table 3.1. Government Current Receipts and Expenditures [Billions of Dollars].” U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last revised March 25, 2021. <www.bea.gov>

“2020 …Total expenditures [=] 9,147.7 … Current expenditures [=] 8,926.4”

CALCULATION: 8,926.4 / 9,147.7 = 98%

[10] For wide-ranging examples, see Just Facts’ research on social spending.

[11] Article: “Spending in Disguise.” By Donald B. Marron (director of the Tax Policy Center and former acting director of the Congressional Budget Office). National Affairs, Summer 2011. <www.nationalaffairs.com>

A great deal of government spending is hidden in the federal tax code in the form of deductions, credits, and other preferences—preferences that seem like they let taxpayers keep their own money, but are actually spending in disguise. …

To illustrate, consider a dilemma that President Obama faced in constructing his 2012 budget. …

… The president thus structured his special, one-time payment as a $250 refundable tax credit for any retiree who did not qualify for Social Security. In Beltway parlance, he offered these men and women a tax cut.

But was it really a tax cut? The president’s $250 credit would have the same budgetary, economic, and distributional effects as his $250 boost in Social Security benefits. Both would deliver extra money to retirees, and both would finance those payments by adding to America’s growing debt. One benefit would arrive as a Social Security check, the other as a reduced tax payment or a refund. These superficial differences aside, however, the proposed tax credit would be, in effect, a spending increase.

[12] Report: “Estimates of Federal Tax Expenditures.” Joint Committee on Taxation, March 14, 1978. <www.jct.gov>

Pages 1–2:

The Concept of Tax Expenditures

Tax expenditure data are intended to show the cost to the Federal Government, in terms of revenues it has foregone, from tax provisions that either have been enacted as incentives for the private sector of the economy or have that effect even though initially having a different objective. The tax incentives usually are designed to encourage certain kinds of economic behavior as an alternative to employing direct expenditures or loan programs to achieve the same or similar objectives. These provisions take the form of exclusions, deductions, credits, preferential tax rates, or deferrals of tax liability. Tax expenditures also are analogous to uncontrolled expenditures made through individual entitlement programs because the taxpayer who can meet the criteria specified in the Internal Revenue Code may use the provision indefinitely without any further action by the Federal Government. This is possible because provisions in the Internal Revenue Code rarely have expiration dates that would require specific congressional action to continue the availability of the tax provision. For many provisions, the revenue loss is determined by the taxpayer’s level of income and his tax rate bracket. From the viewpoint of the budget process, fiscal policy and the allocation of resources, uncontrollable outlays or receipts restrict the range of adjustments that can be made in public policy. One of the initial purposes of the enumeration of tax expenditures was to provide Congress with the information it would need to select between a tax or an outlay approach to accomplish a goal of public policy.

Pages 4–5:

Under the Joint Committee staff methodology, the normal structure of the individual income tax includes the following major components: one personal exemption for each taxpayer and one for each dependent, the standard deduction, the existing tax rate schedule, and deductions for investment and employee business expenses. Most other tax benefits to individual taxpayers are classified as exceptions to normal income tax law.

The Joint Committee staff views the personal exemptions and the standard deduction as defining the zero-rate bracket that is a part of normal tax law. An itemized deduction that is not necessary for the generation of income is classified as a tax expenditure, but only to the extent that it, when added to a taxpayer’s other itemized deductions, exceeds the standard deduction.

[13] Email from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis to Just Facts, September 6, 2018.

With regard to Table 3.12 [Government Social Benefits], most tax policies and “tax preferences” affect NIPA [National Income and Product Accounts] estimates only by how they affect tax receipts. For example, the tax exclusion for employer-provided health insurance would show up in the NIPAs as lower taxes received from businesses. Only refundable personal tax credits are treated differently—we classify the full amount of these credits as social benefits, not as a reduction in tax receipts.

[14] Report: “Overview of the Federal Tax System in 2020.” By Molly F. Sherlock and Donald J. Marples. Congressional Research Service. Updated November 10, 2020. <fas.org>

Page 8: “If a tax credit is refundable, and the credit amount exceeds tax liability, a taxpayer receives the credit (or a portion of the credit) as a refund. … Some credits are phased out as income rises to limit or eliminate benefits for higher-income taxpayers.”

[15] Report: “Preview of the 2015 Annual Revision of the National Income and Product Accounts.” By Stephanie H. McCulla and Shelly Smith. U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, June 2015. <apps.bea.gov>

Page 2:

Federal Refundable Tax Credits

Federal income tax credits allow taxpayers who meet certain eligibility criteria to reduce the amount they are required to pay in federal income taxes. A tax credit is considered to be “refundable” if any excess of the tax credit over a taxpayer’s total tax liability is paid to the taxpayer as a refund. In contrast, tax credits are considered to be “nonrefundable” if taxpayers can only claim the credit up to the amount of their tax liability.1 Examples of refundable tax credits include the earned income tax credit and the temporary “Making Work Pay” tax credit (see table C).

Table C. Federal Refundable Tax Credit Programs

Major programs

Program dates

Earned Income Tax Credit

1975–present

Additional Child Tax Credit

1998–present

2008 Economic Stimulus Payments

2008

American Opportunity Tax Credit

2009–present

Making Work Pay Tax Credit

2010–2011

Health Insurance Premium Assistance Credits

2014–present

Current treatment. In the NIPAs [national income and product accounts], the portion of refundable tax credits that is not directly paid to taxpayers as refunds (that is, the amount up to, but not exceeding, the total liability) is recorded as a reduction in the income taxes paid by persons to the federal government, and the portion that is paid to taxpayers as refunds (that is, any excess of the credit over the liability) is recorded as a government social benefit. This treatment provides an accurate picture of actual tax revenues and payments, but it obscures the full costs and benefits of government tax policies; that is, households not only receive the amount by which tax credits exceed their tax liabilities—but they are also relieved of the associated liabilities. Similarly, the government not only pays the refunds, but it also relinquishes its claim on the associated tax liabilities.

New treatment. As part of this annual revision, the NIPAs will record the full value of the liabilities and the credits associated with refundable tax credit programs administered by the federal government in the accounts for personal income and outlays and for federal government receipts and expenditures.2 This change will improve the consistency of the NIPAs with the System of National Accounts 2008, the international guidelines for national economic accounts, which recommends that the total value of refundable tax credits, not just the amount paid to persons, be recognized as a transfer from the government to the household sector.3 As a result, estimates of federal government social benefit payments to persons will be revised up to reflect the total amount of the refundable tax credits, and estimates of personal current taxes paid to the federal government will be revised up by an equal amount to reflect the total tax liability of taxpayers (which does not include the refunds).

[16] Report: “2011 Long-Term Budget Outlook.” Congressional Budget Office, June 2011. <www.cbo.gov>

Page 4:

Mandatory programs are programs that do not require annual appropriations by the Congress; the funding available for them is generally not limited. Most mandatory spending is for entitlement programs, in which the federal government is required to make payments to any person or entity that meets the eligibility criteria set in law. Discretionary spending, by contrast, is controlled by annual appropriation acts.

[17] “A Glossary of Terms Used in the Federal Budget Process.” U.S. Government Accountability Office. September, 2005. <www.gao.gov>

Page 46:

Discretionary

A term that usually modifies either “spending,” “appropriation,” or “amount.” “Discretionary spending” refers to outlays from budget authority that is provided in and controlled by appropriation acts. “Discretionary appropriation” refers to those budgetary resources that are provided in appropriation acts, other than those that fund mandatory programs.

Page 66:

Mandatory

A term that usually modifies either “spending” or “amount.” “Mandatory spending,” also known as “direct spending,” refers to budget authority that is provided in laws other than appropriation acts and the outlays that result from such budget authority. Mandatory spending includes entitlement authority (for example, the Food Stamp, Medicare, and veterans’ pension programs), payment of interest on the public debt, and non-entitlements such as payments to states from Forest Service receipts. By defining eligibility and setting the benefit or payment rules, Congress controls spending for these programs indirectly rather than directly through appropriations acts.

[18] Report: “Federal Spending on Benefits and Services for People with Low Income: FY2008–FY2018 Update.” By Karen E. Lynch and others. Congressional Research Service, February 5, 2020. <fas.org>

Pages 5–6:

Mandatory and Discretionary Spending

The largest programs providing benefits and services to low-income people are mandatory spending programs. These are programs where spending is controlled by the terms of their authorizing laws—such as entitlements either to individuals or states—rather than the annual appropriation process. Discretionary spending is generally determined through annual appropriations.

Figure 3 shows federal spending in FY2018 on benefits and services for people with low income by category and budget classification (mandatory, discretionary, or some programs have spending classified as both). The largest categories (health, cash aid, and food aid) are dominated by mandatory spending. Housing is almost entirely discretionary spending, determined through annual appropriations. Education is split between discretionary spending and the Pell Grant program, which has both mandatory and discretionary components. Social services and employment and training have a mix of mandatory spending (much of it coming from the broadbased Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant) and discretionary funding. Energy assistance is entirely discretionary.

Of the $917.8 billion spent by the federal government on benefits and services for people with low income in FY2018, $741.2 billion (81%) was spent on programs or activities receiving only mandatory funding and $139.7 billion (15%) was spent on programs or activities receiving only discretionary funding. The remaining $37.0 billion of spending occurred in programs receiving both mandatory and discretionary funding.5 Health care is a major source of mandatory spending: 94% of all health care spending discussed in this report was mandatory spending in FY2018.

[19] Report: “Federal Mandatory Spending for Means-Tested Programs, 2009 to 2029.” Congressional Budget Office, June 2019. <www.cbo.gov>

Page 1:

Means-tested programs (which provide cash payments or other forms of assistance to people with relatively low income or few assets) currently account for a little more than a quarter of all mandatory spending.1 The largest means-tested mandatory programs are Medicaid, the earned income and child tax credits (which are refundable and thus affect outlays), the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and the Supplemental Security Income program.

1 Mandatory spending is governed by statutory criteria and is not normally controlled by the annual appropriation process.

[20] Report: “Fiscal Year 2021 Historical Tables: Budget Of The U.S. Government.” White House Office of Management and Budget, February 2020. <www.whitehouse.gov>

Pages 12–13 (of PDF):

While total discretionary spending as a percent of GDP [gross domestic product] has generally followed a downward path over most of the past 50 years, its major components—defense and nondefense—have contrasting histories. …

Nondefense discretionary spending as a percent of GDP has followed a much different path. In 1962, it stood at 3.3 percent of GDP. During the next few years it quickly increased, reaching 4.1 percent of GDP by 1967. It dropped slightly after that year, but still averaged about 3.8 percent of GDP until 1975, when it grew to 4.4 percent of GDP due, in part, to the recession and partly due to growth in spending on energy, the environment, and housing and other income support programs. Much of this growth was in the form of Federal grants to State and local governments. Additional spending arose from the creation of various antirecession grants at the end of the decade. …

Programmatic mandatory spending (which excludes net interest and undistributed offsetting receipts) accounts for the largest part of the growth in total Federal spending as a percent of GDP since the 1950s. Major programs in this category include Social Security, Medicare, unemployment compensation, deposit insurance, and means-tested entitlements (Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Supplemental Security Income, the refundable portions of a variety of tax credits, including the Earned Income and Child Tax Credits, and other programs subject to an income or asset test).

[21] Report: “Fiscal Year 2021 Historical Tables: Budget Of The U.S. Government.” White House Office of Management and Budget, February 2020. <www.whitehouse.gov>

Page 18 (of PDF): “Net interest: Most spending for net interest is paid to the public† as interest on the Federal debt. As shown in Table 3.2, net interest includes, as an offset, significant amounts of interest income. Spending in this category is equal to net outlays in the budget function of the same name.”

Pages 143–144 (of PDF): Table 8.3. Percentage Distribution of Outlays by Budget Enforcement Act Category: 1962–2025 … 2019 … Discretionary [=] 30.1% … Mandatory [=] 61.5% … Net Interest [=] 8.4%”

NOTE: † Interest “paid to the public” refers to interest on the publicly held national debt, or the portion of the national debt that is not owed to federal programs like Social Security.

[22] Dataset: “Table 3.1. Government Current Receipts and Expenditures [Billions of Dollars].” U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last revised March 25, 2021. <www.bea.gov>

“Total expenditures … 2020 [=] 9,147.7”

[23] Calculated with the dataset: “Table 7.1. Selected Per Capita Product and Income Series in Current and Chained Dollars.” U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last revised February 25, 2021. <apps.bea.gov>

“Population (Midperiod, Thousands) … 2020 [=] 330,157”

CALCULATION: $9,147,700,000,000 spending / 330,157,000 people = $27,707 spending per person

[24] Calculated with the dataset: “HH-1. Households by Type: 1940 to Present (Numbers in Thousands).” U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, December 2020. <www.census.gov>

“Total Households … 2020 [=] 128,451”

CALCULATION: $9,147,700,000,000 spending / 128,451,000 households = $71,215 spending per household

[25] Calculated with the dataset: “Table 1.1.5. Gross Domestic Product [Billions of Dollars].” United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last revised February 25, 2021. <apps.bea.gov>

“Gross Domestic Product … 2020 [=] 20,934.9”

CALCULATION: $9,147,700,000,000 spending / $20,934,900,000,000 GDP = 43.7%

[26] Calculated with data from:

a) Dataset: “Table 3.1. Government Current Receipts and Expenditures [Billions of dollars].” U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last revised March 25, 2021. <www.bea.gov>

b) Dataset: “CPI—All Urban Consumers (Current Series).” U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Accessed March 5, 2021 at <www.bls.gov>

“Series Id: CUUR0000SA0; Series Title: All Items in U.S. City Average, All Urban Consumers, Not Seasonally Adjusted; Area: U.S. City Average; Item: All Items; Base Period: 1982–84=100”

c) Dataset: “HH-1. Households by Type: 1940 to Present [In Thousands].” U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, December 2020. <www.census.gov>

NOTE: An Excel file containing the data and calculations is available upon request.

[27] Article: “Federal Reserve’s Role During WWII.” By Gary Richardson. Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, Federal Reserve History, November 22, 2013. <www.federalreservehistory.org>

In September 1939, Germany’s invasion of Poland triggered war among the principal European powers. In December 1941, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. Germany and Italy declared war on the United States. The American “arsenal of democracy” joined the Allied nations, including Britain, France, China, the Soviet Union, and numerous others, in the fight against the Axis alliance. The Allied counteroffensive began in 1942. The Axis surrendered in 1945.

[28] “WHO Director-General’s Opening Remarks at the Media Briefing on Covid-19.” World Health Organization, March 11, 2020. <www.who.int>

[Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus:] …

WHO has been assessing this outbreak around the clock and we are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction.

We have therefore made the assessment that COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic.

[29] Calculated with data from:

a) Dataset: “Table 3.1. Government Current Receipts and Expenditures [Billions of dollars].” U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last revised March 25, 2021. <www.bea.gov>

b) Dataset: “Table 1.1.5. Gross Domestic Product.” United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last revised February 25, 2021. <www.bea.gov>

Line 1: “Gross Domestic Product”

NOTE: An Excel file containing the data and calculations is available upon request.

[30] Article: “Federal Reserve’s Role During WWII.” By Gary Richardson. Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, Federal Reserve History, November 22, 2013. <www.federalreservehistory.org>

In September 1939, Germany’s invasion of Poland triggered war among the principal European powers. In December 1941, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. Germany and Italy declared war on the United States. The American “arsenal of democracy” joined the Allied nations, including Britain, France, China, the Soviet Union, and numerous others, in the fight against the Axis alliance. The Allied counteroffensive began in 1942. The Axis surrendered in 1945.

[31] “WHO Director-General’s Opening Remarks at the Media Briefing on Covid-19.” World Health Organization, March 11, 2020. <www.who.int>

[Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus:] …

WHO has been assessing this outbreak around the clock and we are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction.

We have therefore made the assessment that COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic.

[32] Dataset: “Table 3.2. Federal Government Current Receipts and Expenditures [Billions of Dollars].” U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last revised March 25, 2021. <www.bea.gov>

“Total expenditures … 2020 [=] $6,932.7”

[33] Calculated with the dataset: “Table 7.1. Selected Per Capita Product and Income Series in Current and Chained Dollars.” U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last revised February 25, 2021. <apps.bea.gov>

“Population (Midperiod, Thousands) … 2020 [=] 330,157”

CALCULATION: $6,932,700,000,000 spending / 330,157,000 people = $20,998 spending per person

[34] Calculated with the dataset: “HH-1. Households by Type: 1940 to Present (Numbers in Thousands).” U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, December 2020. <www.census.gov>

“Total Households … 2020 [=] 128,451”

CALCULATION: $6,932,700,000,000 spending / 128,451,000 households = $53,972 spending per household

[35] Calculated with the dataset: “Table 1.1.5. Gross Domestic Product [Billions of Dollars].” United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last revised February 25, 2021. <apps.bea.gov>

“Gross Domestic Product … 2020 [=] 20,934.9”

CALCULATION: $6,932,700,000,000 spending / $20,934,900,000,000 GDP = 33.1%

[36] Calculated with data from:

a) Dataset: “Table 3.2. Federal Government Current Receipts and Expenditures [Billions of dollars].” U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last revised March 25, 2021. <www.bea.gov>

b) Dataset: “CPI—All Urban Consumers (Current Series).” U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Accessed March 5, 2021 at <www.bls.gov>

“Series Id: CUUR0000SA0; Series Title: All Items in U.S. City Average, All Urban Consumers, Not Seasonally Adjusted; Area: U.S. City Average; Item: All Items; Base Period: 1982–84=100”

c) Dataset: “HH-1. Households by Type: 1940 to Present [In Thousands].” U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, December 2020. <www.census.gov>

NOTE: An Excel file containing the data and calculations is available upon request.

[37] Article: “Federal Reserve’s Role During WWII.” By Gary Richardson. Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, Federal Reserve History, November 22, 2013. <www.federalreservehistory.org>

In September 1939, Germany’s invasion of Poland triggered war among the principal European powers. In December 1941, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. Germany and Italy declared war on the United States. The American “arsenal of democracy” joined the Allied nations, including Britain, France, China, the Soviet Union, and numerous others, in the fight against the Axis alliance. The Allied counteroffensive began in 1942. The Axis surrendered in 1945.

[38] “WHO Director-General’s Opening Remarks at the Media Briefing on Covid-19.” World Health Organization, March 11, 2020. <www.who.int>

[Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus:] …

WHO has been assessing this outbreak around the clock and we are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction.

We have therefore made the assessment that COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic.

[39] Calculated with data from:

a) Dataset: “Table 3.2. Federal Government Current Receipts and Expenditures [Billions of dollars].” U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last revised March 25, 2021. <www.bea.gov>

b) Calculated with the dataset: “Table 1.1.5. Gross Domestic Product [Billions of Dollars].” United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last revised February 25, 2021. <apps.bea.gov>

NOTE: An Excel file containing the data and calculations is available upon request.

[40] Article: “Federal Reserve’s Role During WWII.” By Gary Richardson. Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, Federal Reserve History, November 22, 2013. <www.federalreservehistory.org>

In September 1939, Germany’s invasion of Poland triggered war among the principal European powers. In December 1941, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. Germany and Italy declared war on the United States. The American “arsenal of democracy” joined the Allied nations, including Britain, France, China, the Soviet Union, and numerous others, in the fight against the Axis alliance. The Allied counteroffensive began in 1942. The Axis surrendered in 1945.

[41] “WHO Director-General’s Opening Remarks at the Media Briefing on Covid-19.” World Health Organization, March 11, 2020. <www.who.int>

[Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus:] …

WHO has been assessing this outbreak around the clock and we are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction.

We have therefore made the assessment that COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic.

[42] Calculated with data from:

a) Dataset: “Table 3.1. Government Current Receipts and Expenditures [Billions of Dollars].” U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last revised March 25, 2021. <www.bea.gov>

“Total expenditures … 2020 [=] 9,147.7”

b) Dataset: “Table 3.2. Federal Government Current Receipts and Expenditures [Billions of Dollars].” U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last revised March 25, 2021. <www.bea.gov>

“Total expenditures … 2020 [=] $6,932.7”

CALCULATION: $9,147.7 billion federal, state, and local expenditures – $6,932.7 federal expenditures = $2,215.0 billion state and local expenditures

[43] Calculated with the dataset: “Table 7.1. Selected Per Capita Product and Income Series in Current and Chained Dollars.” U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last revised February 25, 2021. <apps.bea.gov>

“Population (Midperiod, Thousands) … 2020 [=] 330,157”

CALCULATION: $2,215,000,000,000 spending / 330,157,000 people = $6,709 spending per person

[44] Calculated with the dataset: “HH-1. Households by Type: 1940 to Present (Numbers in Thousands).” U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, December 2020. <www.census.gov>

“Total Households … 2020 [=] 128,451”

CALCULATION: $2,215,000,000,000 spending / 128,451,000 households = $17,244 spending per household

[45] Calculated with the dataset: “Table 1.1.5. Gross Domestic Product [Billions of Dollars].” United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last revised February 25, 2021. <apps.bea.gov>

“Gross Domestic Product … 2020 [=] 20,934.9”

CALCULATION: $2,215,000,000,000 spending / $20,934,900,000,000 GDP = 10.6%

[46] Calculated with data from:

a) Dataset: “Table 3.1. Government Current Receipts and Expenditures [Billions of Dollars].” U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last revised March 25, 2021. <www.bea.gov>

“Total expenditures … 2020 [=] 9,147.7”

b) Dataset: “Table 3.2. Federal Government Current Receipts and Expenditures [Billions of Dollars].” U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last revised March 25, 2021. <www.bea.gov>

“Total expenditures … 2020 [=] 6,932.7”

c) Dataset: “Table 7.1. Selected Per Capita Product and Income Series in Current and Chained Dollars.” U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last revised February 25, 2021. <apps.bea.gov>

Line 18: “Population (Midperiod, Thousands)”

d) Dataset: “CPI—All Urban Consumers (Current Series).” U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Accessed March 5, 2021 at <www.bls.gov>

“Series Id: CUUR0000SA0; Series Title: All Items in U.S. City Average, All Urban Consumers, Not Seasonally Adjusted; Area: U.S. City Average; Item: All Items; Base Period: 1982–84=100”

NOTE: An Excel file containing the data and calculations is available upon request.

[47] “WHO Director-General’s Opening Remarks at the Media Briefing on Covid-19.” World Health Organization, March 11, 2020. <www.who.int>

[Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus:] …

WHO has been assessing this outbreak around the clock and we are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction.

We have therefore made the assessment that COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic.

[48] Calculated with data from:

a) Dataset: “Table 3.1. Government Current Receipts and Expenditures [Billions of Dollars].” U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last revised March 25, 2021. <www.bea.gov>

“Total expenditures … 2020 [=] 9,147.7”

b) Dataset: “Table 3.2. Federal Government Current Receipts and Expenditures [Billions of Dollars].” U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last revised March 25, 2021. <www.bea.gov>

“Total expenditures … 2020 [=] $6,932.7”

c) Table 1.1.5. Gross Domestic Product [Billions of Dollars].” United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last revised February 25, 2021. <apps.bea.gov>

NOTE: An Excel file containing the data and calculations is available upon request.

[49] Article: “Great Depression.” By Richard H. Pells and Christina D. Romer. Encyclopedia Britannica, 1998. <www.britannica.com>

Great Depression, worldwide economic downturn that began in 1929 and lasted until about 1939. It was the longest and most severe depression ever experienced by the industrialized Western world, sparking fundamental changes in economic institutions, macroeconomic policy, and economic theory.”

[50] “WHO Director-General’s Opening Remarks at the Media Briefing on Covid-19.” World Health Organization, March 11, 2020. <www.who.int>

[Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus:] …

WHO has been assessing this outbreak around the clock and we are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction.

We have therefore made the assessment that COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic.

[51] Calculated with data from:

a) Dataset: “Table 3.16. Government Current Expenditures by Function [Billions of Dollars].” U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last revised November 3, 2020. <www.bea.gov>

b) Report: “Fiscal Year 2021 Historical Tables: Budget Of The U.S. Government.” White House Office of Management and Budget, February, 2020. <www.whitehouse.gov>

Pages 53–62 (of PDF): “Table 3.1—Outlays by Superfunction and Function: 1940–2025.”

c) Dataset: “HH-1. Households by Type: 1940 to Present.” U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, November 2019. <www.census.gov>

NOTES:

  • Just Facts counts veterans’ benefits as spending for national defense because these benefits were earned for serving in the Armed Forces. In contrast, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis includes veterans’ benefits “within those functions that best reflect the nature of the specific benefits programs managed by the agency.” [Email from the Bureau of Economic Analysis to Just Facts, March 8, 2011.] Since these are typically social programs, Just Facts identifies and moves this spending to national defense by using data on “veterans’ benefits and services” from the White House Office of Management and Budget. This includes “income security for veterans,” “veterans education, training, and rehabilitation,” “hospital and medical care for veterans,” “veterans housing,” and “other veterans benefits and services.”
  • Given the steep rise in national debt from 2001 to 2016, Just Facts has been asked why the portion of federal spending dedicated to “general government and debt service” declined over this period. The primary reason is that interest rates on government debt fell. For details, see Just Facts’ research on national debt interest.
  • An Excel file containing the data and calculations is available here.

[52] Calculated with data from:

a) Dataset: “Table 3.16. Government Current Expenditures by Function [Billions of Dollars].” U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last revised November 3, 2020. <www.bea.gov>

b) Report: “Fiscal Year 2021 Historical Tables: Budget Of The U.S. Government.” White House Office of Management and Budget, February, 2020. <www.whitehouse.gov>

Pages 53–62: “Table 3.1—Outlays by Superfunction and Function: 1940–2025.”

c) Dataset: “HH-1. Households by Type: 1940 to Present.” U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, November 2019. <www.census.gov>

NOTES:

  • Just Facts counts veterans’ benefits as spending for national defense because these benefits were earned for serving in the Armed Forces. In contrast, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis includes veterans’ benefits “within those functions that best reflect the nature of the specific benefits programs managed by the agency.” [Email from the Bureau of Economic Analysis to Just Facts, March 8, 2011.] Since these are typically social programs, Just Facts identifies and moves this spending to national defense by using data on “veterans’ benefits and services” from the White House Office of Management and Budget. This includes “income security for veterans,” “veterans education, training, and rehabilitation,” “hospital and medical care for veterans,” “veterans housing,” and “other veterans benefits and services.”
  • Given the steep rise in national debt from 2001 to 2016, Just Facts has been asked why the portion of federal spending dedicated to “general government and debt service” declined over this period. The primary reason is that interest rates on government debt fell. For details, see Just Facts’ research on national debt interest.
  • An Excel file containing the data and calculations is available here.

[53] Calculated with data from:

a) Dataset: “Table 3.16. Government Current Expenditures by Function [Billions of Dollars].” U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last revised November 3, 2020. <www.bea.gov>

b) Report: “Fiscal Year 2021 Historical Tables: Budget Of The U.S. Government.” White House Office of Management and Budget, February, 2020. <www.whitehouse.gov>

Pages 53–62: “Table 3.1—Outlays by Superfunction and Function: 1940–2025.”

NOTES:

  • Just Facts counts veterans’ benefits as spending for national defense because these benefits were earned for serving in the Armed Forces. In contrast, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis includes veterans’ benefits “within those functions that best reflect the nature of the specific benefits programs managed by the agency.” [Email from the Bureau of Economic Analysis to Just Facts, March 8, 2011.] Since these are typically social programs, Just Facts identifies and moves this spending to national defense by using data on “veterans’ benefits and services” from the White House Office of Management and Budget. This includes “income security for veterans,” “veterans education, training, and rehabilitation,” “hospital and medical care for veterans,” “veterans housing,” and “other veterans benefits and services.”
  • Given the steep rise in national debt from 2001 to 2016, Just Facts has been asked why the portion of federal spending dedicated to “general government and debt service” declined over this period. The primary reason is that interest rates on government debt fell. For details, see Just Facts’ research on national debt interest.
  • An Excel file containing the data and calculations is available here.

[54] Calculated with data from:

a) Dataset: “Table 3.16. Government Current Expenditures by Function [Billions of Dollars].” U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last revised November 3, 2020. <www.bea.gov>

b) Report: “Fiscal Year 2021 Historical Tables: Budget Of The U.S. Government.” White House Office of Management and Budget, February, 2020. <www.whitehouse.gov>

Pages 53–62: “Table 3.1—Outlays by Superfunction and Function: 1940–2025.”

NOTES:

  • Just Facts counts veterans’ benefits as spending for national defense because these benefits were earned for serving in the Armed Forces. In contrast, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis includes veterans’ benefits “within those functions that best reflect the nature of the specific benefits programs managed by the agency.” [Email from the Bureau of Economic Analysis to Just Facts, March 8, 2011.] Since these are typically social programs, Just Facts identifies and moves this spending to national defense by using data on “veterans’ benefits and services” from the White House Office of Management and Budget. This includes “income security for veterans,” “veterans education, training, and rehabilitation,” “hospital and medical care for veterans,” “veterans housing,” and “other veterans benefits and services.”
  • Given the steep rise in national debt from 2001 to 2016, Just Facts has been asked why the portion of federal spending dedicated to “general government and debt service” declined over this period. The primary reason is that interest rates on government debt fell. For details, see Just Facts’ research on national debt interest.
  • An Excel file containing the data and calculations is available here.

[55] Calculated with data from:

a) Dataset: “Table 3.16. Government Current Expenditures by Function [Billions of Dollars].” U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last revised November 3, 2020. <www.bea.gov>

b) Report: “Fiscal Year 2021 Historical Tables: Budget Of The U.S. Government.” White House Office of Management and Budget, February, 2020. <www.whitehouse.gov>

Pages 53–62: “Table 3.1—Outlays by Superfunction and Function: 1940–2025.”

c) Dataset: “HH-1. Households by Type: 1940 to Present.” U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, November 2019. <www.census.gov>

NOTES:

  • Just Facts counts veterans’ benefits as spending for national defense because these benefits were earned for serving in the Armed Forces. In contrast, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis includes veterans’ benefits “within those functions that best reflect the nature of the specific benefits programs managed by the agency.” [Email from the Bureau of Economic Analysis to Just Facts, March 8, 2011.] Since these are typically social programs, Just Facts identifies and moves this spending to national defense by using data on “veterans’ benefits and services” from the White House Office of Management and Budget. This includes “income security for veterans,” “veterans education, training, and rehabilitation,” “hospital and medical care for veterans,” “veterans housing,” and “other veterans benefits and services.”
  • Given the steep rise in national debt from 2001 to 2016, Just Facts has been asked why the portion of federal spending dedicated to “general government and debt service” declined over this period. The primary reason is that interest rates on government debt fell. For details, see Just Facts’ research on national debt interest.
  • An Excel file containing the data and calculations is available here.

[56] Calculated with data from:

a) Dataset: “Table 3.16. Government Current Expenditures by Function [Billions of Dollars].” U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last revised November 3, 2020. <www.bea.gov>

b) Report: “Fiscal Year 2021 Historical Tables: Budget Of The U.S. Government.” White House Office of Management and Budget, February, 2020. <www.whitehouse.gov>

Pages 53–62: “Table 3.1—Outlays by Superfunction and Function: 1940–2025.”

c) Dataset: “HH-1. Households by Type: 1940 to Present.” U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, November 2019. <www.census.gov>

NOTES:

  • Just Facts counts veterans’ benefits as spending for national defense because these benefits were earned for serving in the Armed Forces. In contrast, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis includes veterans’ benefits “within those functions that best reflect the nature of the specific benefits programs managed by the agency.” [Email from the Bureau of Economic Analysis to Just Facts, March 8, 2011.] Since these are typically social programs, Just Facts identifies and moves this spending to national defense by using data on “veterans’ benefits and services” from the White House Office of Management and Budget. This includes “income security for veterans,” “veterans education, training, and rehabilitation,” “hospital and medical care for veterans,” “veterans housing,” and “other veterans benefits and services.”
  • Given the steep rise in national debt from 2001 to 2016, Just Facts has been asked why the portion of federal spending dedicated to “general government and debt service” declined over this period. The primary reason is that interest rates on government debt fell. For details, see Just Facts’ research on national debt interest.
  • An Excel file containing the data and calculations is available here.

[57] Article: “Scientific Survey Shows Voters Widely Accept Misinformation Spread By the Media.” By James D. Agresti. Just Facts, January 2, 2020. <www.justfacts.com>

The survey was conducted by Triton Polling & Research, an academic research firm that serves scholars, corporations, and political campaigns. The responses were obtained through live telephone surveys of 700 likely voters across the U.S. during December 2–11, 2019. This sample size is large enough to accurately represent the U.S. population. Likely voters are people who say they vote “every time there is an opportunity” or in “most” elections.

The margin of sampling error for the total pool of respondents is ±4% with at least 95% confidence. The margins of error for the subsets are 6% for Democrat voters, 6% for Trump voters, 5% for males, 5% for females, 12% for 18 to 34 year olds, 5% for 35 to 64 year olds, and 6% for 65+ year olds.

The survey results presented in this article are slightly weighted to match the ages and genders of likely voters. The political parties and geographic locations of the survey respondents almost precisely match the population of likely voters. Thus, there is no need for weighting based upon these variables.

[58] Dataset: “Just Facts 2019 U.S. Nationwide Survey.” Just Facts, December 2019. <www.justfacts.com>

Page 2:

Q9: Do you think the federal government spends more money on social programs, such as Medicare, education, and food stamps—or does the federal government spend more money on national defense, such as the Army, Navy, and missile defense?

More on social programs [=] 36.2%

More on national defense [=] 58.3%

Unsure [=] 4.5%

[59] For facts about how surveys work and why some are accurate while others are not, click here.

[60] Calculated with data from:

a) Dataset: “Table 3.16. Government Current Expenditures by Function [Billions of Dollars].” U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last revised November 3, 2020. <www.bea.gov>

b) Report: “Fiscal Year 2021 Historical Tables: Budget Of The U.S. Government.” White House Office of Management and Budget, February, 2020. <www.whitehouse.gov>

Pages 53–62: “Table 3.1—Outlays by Superfunction and Function: 1940–2025.”

NOTE: An Excel file containing the data and calculations is available here.

[61] Calculated with data from:

a) Dataset: “Table 3.16. Government Current Expenditures by Function [Billions of Dollars].” U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last revised November 3, 2020. <www.bea.gov>

b) Report: “Fiscal Year 2021 Historical Tables: Budget Of The U.S. Government.” White House Office of Management and Budget, February, 2020. <www.whitehouse.gov>

Pages 53–62: “Table 3.1—Outlays by Superfunction and Function: 1940–2025.”

NOTES:

  • Just Facts counts veterans’ benefits as spending for national defense because these benefits were earned for serving in the Armed Forces. In contrast, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis includes veterans’ benefits “within those functions that best reflect the nature of the specific benefits programs managed by the agency.” [Email from the Bureau of Economic Analysis to Just Facts, March 8, 2011.] Since these are typically social programs, Just Facts identifies and moves this spending to national defense by using data on “veterans’ benefits and services” from the White House Office of Management and Budget. This includes “income security for veterans,” “veterans education, training, and rehabilitation,” “hospital and medical care for veterans,” “veterans housing,” and “other veterans benefits and services.”
  • Given the steep rise in national debt from 2001 to 2016, Just Facts has been asked why the portion of federal spending dedicated to “General government and debt service” declined over this period. The primary reason is that interest rates on government debt fell. For details, see Just Facts’ research on national debt interest rates.
  • An Excel file containing the data and calculations is available here.

[62] Calculated with data from:

a) Dataset: “Table 3.16. Government Current Expenditures by Function [Billions of Dollars].” U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last revised November 3, 2020. <www.bea.gov>

b) Dataset: “HH-1. Households by Type: 1940 to Present.” U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, November 2019. <www.census.gov>

NOTE: An Excel file containing the data and calculations is available here.

[63] Calculated with data from:

a) Dataset: “Table 3.16. Government Current Expenditures by Function [Billions of Dollars].” U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last revised November 3, 2020. <www.bea.gov>

b) Dataset: “HH-1. Households by Type: 1940 to Present.” U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, November 2019. <www.census.gov>

NOTE: An Excel file containing the data and calculations is available here.

[64] Calculated with data from:

a) Dataset: “Table 3.16. Government Current Expenditures by Function [Billions of Dollars].” U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last revised November 3, 2020. <www.bea.gov>

b) Report: “Fiscal Year 2021 Historical Tables: Budget Of The U.S. Government.” White House Office of Management and Budget, February, 2020. <www.whitehouse.gov>

Pages 53–62: “Table 3.1—Outlays by Superfunction and Function: 1940–2025.”

NOTE: An Excel file containing the data and calculations is available here.

[65] Calculated with data from:

a) Dataset: “Table 3.16. Government Current Expenditures by Function [Billions of Dollars].” U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last revised November 3, 2020. <www.bea.gov>

b) Report: “Fiscal Year 2021 Historical Tables: Budget Of The U.S. Government.” White House Office of Management and Budget, February, 2020. <www.whitehouse.gov>

Pages 53–62: “Table 3.1—Outlays by Superfunction and Function: 1940–2025.”

NOTE: An Excel file containing the data and calculations is available here.

[66] Article: “Social Welfare Program.” Encyclopædia Britannica. Accessed May 11, 2018 at <www.britannica.com>

“Social welfare program, any of a variety of governmental programs designed to protect citizens from the economic risks and insecurities of life. The most common types of programs provide benefits to the elderly or retired, the sick or invalid, dependent survivors, mothers, the unemployed, the work-injured, and families.”

[67] Report: “Social Welfare Expenditures Under Public Programs, Fiscal Year 1977.” By Alma McMillan. Social Security Administration Office of Research and Statistics Social Security Bulletin, June 1979. <www.ssa.gov>

Page 7:

Public social welfare expenditures are defined in this series as cash and medical benefits, services, and administrative costs for all programs operating under public law that are of direct benefit to individuals and families. Included are programs providing income maintenance and health benefits through social insurance and public aid, and those providing public support of health, education, housing, and other welfare services.

[68] Article: “Social Welfare Expenditures in the United States, 1956–57.” By Ida C. Merriam (Director, Division of Program Research, Office of the Social Security Commissioner). Social Security Bulletin, October 1958. Pages 22–33. <www.ssa.gov>

Page 22:

Whatever definition of social welfare programs or activities is used, there are several different contexts in which it is desirable to look at social welfare expenditures. The primary one around which the series has been organized is that of program expenditures. This classification identifies total expenditures, including costs of administration, under designated programs—in this instance, civilian public programs of income maintenance, health, education, public housing, and other welfare services. The data thus compiled give a measure of the shares of the total national output and of all public expenditures that have been going to these designated programs.

[69] The Oxford Handbook of U.S. Social Policy. Edited by Daniel Beland, Christopher Howard, and Kimberly J. Morgan. Oxford University Press, 2015.

Chapter 1: “The Fragmented American Welfare State: Putting the Pieces Together.” By Daniel Beland, Christopher Howard, and Kimberly J. Morgan. Pages 3–22.

Page 4:

Social policy refers to programs that redistribute resources across society and often seek to cushion people against life’s socioeconomic risks. These programs usually take the form of cash transfers or in-kind benefits such as medical care. Taken together, social programs constitute the welfare state, a term that implies uniformity and coherence but in fact often conceals a tremendous amount of variation in terms of programmatic design and political dynamics.

… Modern social programs span a multitude of policy areas, including programs for the unemployed, retirees, the sick, the disabled, the poor, and families with children (Beland 2010). All of these policy areas are explicitly analyzed in this handbook. Some, such as retirement pensions and health care, are represented by several chapters each, a reflection of the programmatic complexity and fragmentation of the American welfare state.

[70] For facts about difference measures of social spending, see Just Facts’ comprehensive research on this issue.

[71] Calculated with data from:

a) Dataset: “Table 3.16. Government Current Expenditures by Function [Billions of Dollars].” U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last revised November 3, 2020. <www.bea.gov>

b) Report: “Fiscal Year 2021 Historical Tables: Budget Of The U.S. Government.” White House Office of Management and Budget, February, 2020. <www.whitehouse.gov>

Pages 53–62: “Table 3.1—Outlays by Superfunction and Function: 1940–2025.”

NOTES:

  • Just Facts does not include veterans’ benefits in its measure of social spending because these benefits are compensation for services rendered in defense of the United States. Thus, Just Facts includes these benefits with spending for national defense. The Bureau of Economic Analysis includes veterans’ benefits “within those functions that best reflect the nature of the specific benefits programs managed by the agency.” [Email from the Bureau of Economic Analysis to Just Facts, March 8, 2011.] Since these are typically social programs, Just Facts identifies and moves this spending to national defense by using data on “veterans’ benefits and services” from the White House Office of Management and Budget. This includes “income security for veterans,” “veterans education, training, and rehabilitation,” “hospital and medical care for veterans,” “veterans housing,” and “other veterans benefits and services.”
  • An Excel file containing the data and calculations is available here.

[72] Calculated with data from:

a) Dataset: “Table 3.16. Government Current Expenditures by Function [Billions of Dollars].” U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last revised November 3, 2020. <www.bea.gov>

b) Report: “Fiscal Year 2021 Historical Tables: Budget Of The U.S. Government.” White House Office of Management and Budget, February, 2020. <www.whitehouse.gov>

Pages 53–62: “Table 3.1—Outlays by Superfunction and Function: 1940–2025.”

c) Dataset: “Monthly Population Estimates for the United States: April 1, 2010 to December 1, 2020.” U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division, December 2019. <www.census.gov>

d) Dataset: “HH-1. Households by Type: 1940 to Present.” U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, December 2020. <www.census.gov>

e) Dataset: “Table 1.1.5. Gross Domestic Product [Billions of Dollars].” United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last revised February 25, 2021. <www.bea.gov>

NOTE: An Excel file containing the data and calculations is available here.

[73] Calculated with data from:

a) Dataset: “Table 3.16. Government Current Expenditures by Function [Billions of Dollars].” U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last revised November 3, 2020. <www.bea.gov>

b) Report: “Fiscal Year 2021 Historical Tables: Budget Of The U.S. Government.” White House Office of Management and Budget, February, 2020. <www.whitehouse.gov>

Pages 53–62: “Table 3.1—Outlays by Superfunction and Function: 1940–2025.”

NOTES:

  • Just Facts does not include veterans’ benefits in its measure of social spending because these benefits are compensation for services rendered in defense of the United States. Thus, Just Facts includes these benefits with spending for national defense. The Bureau of Economic Analysis includes veterans’ benefits “within those functions that best reflect the nature of the specific benefits programs managed by the agency.” [Email from the Bureau of Economic Analysis to Just Facts, March 8, 2011.] Since these are typically social programs, Just Facts identifies and moves this spending to national defense by using data on “veterans’ benefits and services” from the White House Office of Management and Budget. This includes “income security for veterans,” “veterans education, training, and rehabilitation,” “hospital and medical care for veterans,” “veterans housing,” and “other veterans benefits and services.”
  • An Excel file containing the data and calculations is available here.

[74] Calculated with data from:

a) Dataset: “Table 3.16. Government Current Expenditures by Function [Billions of Dollars].” U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last revised November 3, 2020. <www.bea.gov>

b) Report: “Fiscal Year 2021 Historical Tables: Budget Of The U.S. Government.” White House Office of Management and Budget, February, 2020. <www.whitehouse.gov>

Pages 53–62: “Table 3.1—Outlays by Superfunction and Function: 1940–2025.”

c) Dataset: “Monthly Population Estimates for the United States: April 1, 2010 to December 1, 2020.” U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division, December 2019. <www.census.gov>

d) Dataset: “HH-1. Households by Type: 1940 to Present.” U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, December 2020. <www.census.gov>

e) Dataset: “Table 1.1.5. Gross Domestic Product [Billions of Dollars].” United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last revised February 25, 2021. <www.bea.gov>

NOTE: An Excel file containing the data and calculations is available here.

[75] Calculated with data from:

a) Dataset: “Table 3.16. Government Current Expenditures by Function [Billions of Dollars].” U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last revised November 3, 2020. <www.bea.gov>

b) Report: “Fiscal Year 2021 Historical Tables: Budget Of The U.S. Government.” White House Office of Management and Budget, February, 2020. <www.whitehouse.gov>

Pages 53–62: “Table 3.1—Outlays by Superfunction and Function: 1940–2025.”

NOTES:

  • Just Facts does not include veterans’ benefits in its measure of social spending because these benefits are compensation for services rendered in defense of the United States. Thus, Just Facts includes these benefits with spending for national defense. The Bureau of Economic Analysis includes veterans’ benefits “within those functions that best reflect the nature of the specific benefits programs managed by the agency.” [Email from the Bureau of Economic Analysis to Just Facts, March 8, 2011.] Since these are typically social programs, Just Facts identifies and moves this spending to national defense by using data on “veterans’ benefits and services” from the White House Office of Management and Budget. This includes “income security for veterans,” “veterans education, training, and rehabilitation,” “hospital and medical care for veterans,” “veterans housing,” and “other veterans benefits and services.”
  • An Excel file containing the data and calculations is available here.

[76] Calculated with data from:

a) Dataset: “Table 3.16. Government Current Expenditures by Function [Billions of Dollars].” U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last revised November 3, 2020. <www.bea.gov>

b) Report: “Fiscal Year 2021 Historical Tables: Budget Of The U.S. Government.” White House Office of Management and Budget, February, 2020. <www.whitehouse.gov>

Pages 53–62: “Table 3.1—Outlays by Superfunction and Function: 1940–2025.”

c) Dataset: “Monthly Population Estimates for the United States: April 1, 2010 to December 1, 2020.” U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division, December 2019. <www.census.gov>

d) Dataset: “HH-1. Households by Type: 1940 to Present.” U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, December 2020. <www.census.gov>

e) Dataset: “Table 1.1.5. Gross Domestic Product [Billions of Dollars].” United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last revised February 25, 2021. <www.bea.gov>

NOTE: An Excel file containing the data and calculations is available here.

[77] Dataset: “Table 3.16. Government Current Expenditures by Function [Billions of Dollars].” U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last revised November 3, 2020. <www.bea.gov>

General public service

Executive and legislative

Tax collection and financial management

Interest payments2

2 Prior to 1960, federal interest receipts are not available separately but are included in interest payments, which is shown net of federal interest receipts. Interest payments includes interest accrued on the actuarial liabilities of defined benefit pension plans for government employees.

[78] Calculated with data from:

a) Dataset: “Table 3.16. Government Current Expenditures by Function [Billions of Dollars].” U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last revised November 3, 2020. <www.bea.gov>

b) Report: “Fiscal Year 2021 Historical Tables: Budget Of The U.S. Government.” White House Office of Management and Budget, February, 2020. <www.whitehouse.gov>

Pages 53–62: “Table 3.1—Outlays by Superfunction and Function: 1940–2025.”

NOTE: An Excel file containing the data and calculations is available here.

[79] Calculated with data from:

a) Dataset: “Table 3.16. Government Current Expenditures by Function [Billions of Dollars].” U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last revised November 3, 2020. <www.bea.gov>

b) Report: “Fiscal Year 2021 Historical Tables: Budget Of The U.S. Government.” White House Office of Management and Budget, February, 2020. <www.whitehouse.gov>

Pages 53–62: “Table 3.1—Outlays by Superfunction and Function: 1940–2025.”

c) Dataset: “Monthly Population Estimates for the United States: April 1, 2010 to December 1, 2020.” U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division, December 2019. <www.census.gov>

d) Dataset: “HH-1. Households by Type: 1940 to Present.” U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, December 2020. <www.census.gov>

e) Dataset: “Table 1.1.5. Gross Domestic Product [Billions of Dollars].” United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last revised February 25, 2021. <www.bea.gov>

NOTE: An Excel file containing the data and calculations is available here.

[80] Calculated with data from:

a) Dataset: “Table 3.16. Government Current Expenditures by Function [Billions of Dollars].” U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last revised November 3, 2020. <www.bea.gov>

b) Report: “Fiscal Year 2021 Historical Tables: Budget Of The U.S. Government.” White House Office of Management and Budget, February, 2020. <www.whitehouse.gov>

Pages 53–62: “Table 3.1—Outlays by Superfunction and Function: 1940–2025.”

NOTE: An Excel file containing the data and calculations is available here.

[81] Calculated with data from:

a) Dataset: “Table 3.16. Government Current Expenditures by Function [Billions of Dollars].” U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last revised November 3, 2020. <www.bea.gov>

b) Report: “Fiscal Year 2021 Historical Tables: Budget Of The U.S. Government.” White House Office of Management and Budget, February, 2020. <www.whitehouse.gov>

Pages 53–62: “Table 3.1—Outlays by Superfunction and Function: 1940–2025.”

c) Dataset: “Monthly Population Estimates for the United States: April 1, 2010 to December 1, 2020.” U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division, December 2019. <www.census.gov>

d) Dataset: “HH-1. Households by Type: 1940 to Present.” U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, December 2020. <www.census.gov>

e) Dataset: “Table 1.1.5. Gross Domestic Product [Billions of Dollars].” United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last revised February 25, 2021. <www.bea.gov>

NOTE: An Excel file containing the data and calculations is available here.

[82] Calculated with data from:

a) Dataset: “Table 3.16. Government Current Expenditures by Function [Billions of Dollars].” U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last revised November 3, 2020. <www.bea.gov>

b) Report: “Fiscal Year 2021 Historical Tables: Budget Of The U.S. Government.” White House Office of Management and Budget, February, 2020. <www.whitehouse.gov>

Pages 53–62: “Table 3.1—Outlays by Superfunction and Function: 1940–2025.”

NOTE: An Excel file containing the data and calculations is available here.

[83] Calculated with data from:

a) Dataset: “Table 3.16. Government Current Expenditures by Function [Billions of Dollars].” U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last revised November 3, 2020. <www.bea.gov>

b) Report: “Fiscal Year 2021 Historical Tables: Budget Of The U.S. Government.” White House Office of Management and Budget, February, 2020. <www.whitehouse.gov>

Pages 53–62: “Table 3.1—Outlays by Superfunction and Function: 1940–2025.”

c) Dataset: “Monthly Population Estimates for the United States: April 1, 2010 to December 1, 2020.” U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division, December 2019. <www.census.gov>

d) Dataset: “HH-1. Households by Type: 1940 to Present.” U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, December 2020. <www.census.gov>

e) Dataset: “Table 1.1.5. Gross Domestic Product [Billions of Dollars].” United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last revised February 25, 2021. <www.bea.gov>

NOTE: An Excel file containing the data and calculations is available here.

[84] Webpage: “The Executive Branch.” White House. Accessed April 9, 2021 at <www.whitehouse.gov>

The mission of the Department of Defense (DOD) is to provide the military forces needed to deter war and to protect the security of our country. The department’s headquarters is at the Pentagon.

The DOD consists of the Departments of the Army, Navy, and Air Force, as well as many agencies, offices, and commands, including the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Pentagon Force Protection Agency, the National Security Agency, and the Defense Intelligence Agency. The DOD occupies the vast majority of the Pentagon building in Arlington, VA.

The Department of Defense is the largest government agency, with more than 1.4 million men and women on active duty, more than 700,000 civilian personnel, and 1.1 million citizens who serve in the National Guard and Reserve forces. Together, the military and civilian arms of DOD protect national interests through war-fighting, providing humanitarian aid, and performing peacekeeping and disaster relief services.

[85] Some government agencies include veterans’ benefits in their measures of social spending, but Just Facts counts these as spending for national defense because they are earned for serving in the Armed Forces.

[86] Calculated with data from:

a) Dataset: “Table 3.16. Government Current Expenditures by Function [Billions of Dollars].” U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last revised November 3, 2020. <www.bea.gov>

b) Report: “Fiscal Year 2021 Historical Tables: Budget Of The U.S. Government.” White House Office of Management and Budget, February, 2020. <www.whitehouse.gov>

Pages 53–62: “Table 3.1—Outlays by Superfunction and Function: 1940–2025.”

NOTE: An Excel file containing the data and calculations is available here.

[87] Calculated with data from:

a) Dataset: “Table 3.16. Government Current Expenditures by Function [Billions of Dollars].” U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last revised November 3, 2020. <www.bea.gov>

b) Report: “Fiscal Year 2021 Historical Tables: Budget Of The U.S. Government.” White House Office of Management and Budget, February, 2020. <www.whitehouse.gov>

Pages 53–62: “Table 3.1—Outlays by Superfunction and Function: 1940–2025.”

c) Dataset: “Monthly Population Estimates for the United States: April 1, 2010 to December 1, 2020.” U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division, December 2019. <www.census.gov>

d) Dataset: “HH-1. Households by Type: 1940 to Present.” U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, December 2020. <www.census.gov>

e) Dataset: “Table 1.1.5. Gross Domestic Product [Billions of Dollars].” United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last revised February 25, 2021. <www.bea.gov>

NOTE: An Excel file containing the data and calculations is available here.

[88] Dataset: “Table 3.16. Government Current Expenditures by Function [Billions of Dollars].” U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last revised November 3, 2020. <www.bea.gov>

Public order and safety

Police

Fire

Law courts

Prisons

[89] Email from Just Facts to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, April 10, 2014.

“In NIPA Table 3.16 (Government Current Expenditures by Function), is spending on federal immigration enforcement included in line 49 (Public order and safety)? If not, under which category does it fall?”

Email from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis to Just Facts, April 11, 2014.

“Spending on federal immigration enforcement is indeed included in Public order and safety in table 3.16.”

[90] Calculated with data from:

a) Dataset: “Table 3.16. Government Current Expenditures by Function [Billions of Dollars].” U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last revised November 3, 2020. <www.bea.gov>

b) Report: “Fiscal Year 2021 Historical Tables: Budget Of The U.S. Government.” White House Office of Management and Budget, February, 2020. <www.whitehouse.gov>

Pages 53–62: “Table 3.1—Outlays by Superfunction and Function: 1940–2025.”

NOTE: An Excel file containing the data and calculations is available here.

[91] Calculated with data from:

a) Dataset: “Table 3.16. Government Current Expenditures by Function [Billions of Dollars].” U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last revised November 3, 2020. <www.bea.gov>

b) Report: “Fiscal Year 2021 Historical Tables: Budget Of The U.S. Government.” White House Office of Management and Budget, February, 2020. <www.whitehouse.gov>

Pages 53–62: “Table 3.1—Outlays by Superfunction and Function: 1940–2025.”

c) Dataset: “Monthly Population Estimates for the United States: April 1, 2010 to December 1, 2020.” U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division, December 2019. <www.census.gov>

d) Dataset: “HH-1. Households by Type: 1940 to Present.” U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, December 2020. <www.census.gov>

e) Dataset: “Table 1.1.5. Gross Domestic Product [Billions of Dollars].” United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last revised February 25, 2021. <www.bea.gov>

NOTE: An Excel file containing the data and calculations is available here.

[92] Calculated with data from:

a) Dataset: “Table 3.16. Government Current Expenditures by Function [Billions of Dollars].” U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last revised November 3, 2020. <www.bea.gov>

b) Report: “Fiscal Year 2021 Historical Tables: Budget Of The U.S. Government.” White House Office of Management and Budget, February, 2020. <www.whitehouse.gov>

Pages 53–62: “Table 3.1—Outlays by Superfunction and Function: 1940–2025.”

NOTE: An Excel file containing the data and calculations is available here.

[93] Calculated with data from:

a) Dataset: “Table 3.16. Government Current Expenditures by Function [Billions of Dollars].” U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last revised November 3, 2020. <www.bea.gov>

b) Report: “Fiscal Year 2021 Historical Tables: Budget Of The U.S. Government.” White House Office of Management and Budget, February, 2020. <www.whitehouse.gov>

Pages 53–62: “Table 3.1—Outlays by Superfunction and Function: 1940–2025.”

c) Dataset: “Monthly Population Estimates for the United States: April 1, 2010 to December 1, 2020.” U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division, December 2019. <www.census.gov>

d) Dataset: “HH-1. Households by Type: 1940 to Present.” U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, December 2020. <www.census.gov>

e) Dataset: “Table 1.1.5. Gross Domestic Product [Billions of Dollars].” United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last revised February 25, 2021. <www.bea.gov>

NOTE: An Excel file containing the data and calculations is available here.

[94] Calculated with data from:

a) Dataset: “Table 3.16. Government Current Expenditures by Function [Billions of Dollars].” U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last revised November 3, 2020. <www.bea.gov>

b) Report: “Fiscal Year 2021 Historical Tables: Budget Of The U.S. Government.” White House Office of Management and Budget, February, 2020. <www.whitehouse.gov>

Pages 53–62: “Table 3.1—Outlays by Superfunction and Function: 1940–2025.”

NOTES:

  • Just Facts does not include veterans’ benefits in its measure of social spending because these benefits are compensation for services rendered in defense of the United States. Thus, Just Facts includes these benefits with spending for national defense. The Bureau of Economic Analysis includes veterans’ benefits “within those functions that best reflect the nature of the specific benefits programs managed by the agency.” [Email from the Bureau of Economic Analysis to Just Facts, March 8, 2011.] Since these are typically social programs, Just Facts identifies and moves this spending to national defense by using data on “veterans’ benefits and services” from the White House Office of Management and Budget. This includes “income security for veterans,” “veterans education, training, and rehabilitation,” “hospital and medical care for veterans,” “veterans housing,” and “other veterans benefits and services.”
  • An Excel file containing the data and calculations is available here.

[95] Calculated with data from:

a) Dataset: “Table 3.16. Government Current Expenditures by Function [Billions of Dollars].” U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last revised November 3, 2020. <www.bea.gov>

b) Report: “Fiscal Year 2021 Historical Tables: Budget Of The U.S. Government.” White House Office of Management and Budget, February, 2020. <www.whitehouse.gov>

Pages 53–62: “Table 3.1—Outlays by Superfunction and Function: 1940–2025.”

c) Dataset: “Monthly Population Estimates for the United States: April 1, 2010 to December 1, 2020.” U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division, December 2019. <www.census.gov>

d) Dataset: “HH-1. Households by Type: 1940 to Present.” U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, December 2020. <www.census.gov>

e) Dataset: “Table 1.1.5. Gross Domestic Product [Billions of Dollars].” United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last revised February 25, 2021. <www.bea.gov>

NOTE: An Excel file containing the data and calculations is available here.

[96] Dataset: “Table 3.16. Government Current Expenditures by Function [Billions of Dollars].” U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last revised November 3, 2020. <www.bea.gov>

Economic affairs

Transportation

Highways

Air

Water

Transit and railroad

Space

Other economic affairs

General economic and labor affairs

Agriculture

Energy

Natural resources

Postal service

Other4

4. Consists of state and local government publicly owned liquor store systems, government-administered lotteries and parimutuels, and other commercial activities.

[97] Calculated with data from:

a) Dataset: “Table 3.16. Government Current Expenditures by Function [Billions of Dollars].” U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last revised November 3, 2020. <www.bea.gov>

b) Report: “Fiscal Year 2021 Historical Tables: Budget Of The U.S. Government.” White House Office of Management and Budget, February, 2020. <www.whitehouse.gov>

Pages 53–62: “Table 3.1—Outlays by Superfunction and Function: 1940–2025.”

NOTE: An Excel file containing the data and calculations is available here.

[98] Calculated with data from:

a) Dataset: “Table 3.16. Government Current Expenditures by Function [Billions of Dollars].” U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last revised November 3, 2020. <www.bea.gov>

b) Report: “Fiscal Year 2021 Historical Tables: Budget Of The U.S. Government.” White House Office of Management and Budget, February, 2020. <www.whitehouse.gov>

Pages 53–62: “Table 3.1—Outlays by Superfunction and Function: 1940–2025.”

c) Dataset: “Monthly Population Estimates for the United States: April 1, 2010 to December 1, 2020.” U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division, December 2019. <www.census.gov>

d) Dataset: “HH-1. Households by Type: 1940 to Present.” U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, December 2020. <www.census.gov>

e) Dataset: “Table 1.1.5. Gross Domestic Product [Billions of Dollars].” United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last revised February 25, 2021. <www.bea.gov>

NOTE: An Excel file containing the data and calculations is available here.

[99] Calculated with data from:

a) Dataset: “Table 3.16. Government Current Expenditures by Function [Billions of Dollars].” U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last revised November 3, 2020. <www.bea.gov>

b) Report: “Fiscal Year 2021 Historical Tables: Budget Of The U.S. Government.” White House Office of Management and Budget, February, 2020. <www.whitehouse.gov>

Pages 53–62: “Table 3.1—Outlays by Superfunction and Function: 1940–2025.”

NOTE: An Excel file containing the data and calculations is available here.

[100] Calculated with data from:

a) Dataset: “Table 3.16. Government Current Expenditures by Function [Billions of Dollars].” U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last revised November 3, 2020. <www.bea.gov>

b) Report: “Fiscal Year 2021 Historical Tables: Budget Of The U.S. Government.” White House Office of Management and Budget, February, 2020. <www.whitehouse.gov>

Pages 53–62: “Table 3.1—Outlays by Superfunction and Function: 1940–2025.”

c) Dataset: “Monthly Population Estimates for the United States: April 1, 2010 to December 1, 2020.” U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division, December 2019. <www.census.gov>

d) Dataset: “HH-1. Households by Type: 1940 to Present.” U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, December 2020. <www.census.gov>

e) Dataset: “Table 1.1.5. Gross Domestic Product [Billions of Dollars].” United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last revised February 25, 2021. <www.bea.gov>

NOTE: An Excel file containing the data and calculations is available here.

[101] Calculated with data from:

a) Dataset: “Table 3.16. Government Current Expenditures by Function [Billions of Dollars].” U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last revised November 3, 2020. <www.bea.gov>

b) Report: “Fiscal Year 2021 Historical Tables: Budget Of The U.S. Government.” White House Office of Management and Budget, February, 2020. <www.whitehouse.gov>

Pages 53–62: “Table 3.1—Outlays by Superfunction and Function: 1940–2025.”

NOTE: An Excel file containing the data and calculations is available here.

[102] Calculated with data from:

a) Dataset: “Table 3.16. Government Current Expenditures by Function [Billions of Dollars].” U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last revised November 3, 2020. <www.bea.gov>

b) Report: “Fiscal Year 2021 Historical Tables: Budget Of The U.S. Government.” White House Office of Management and Budget, February, 2020. <www.whitehouse.gov>

Pages 53–62: “Table 3.1—Outlays by Superfunction and Function: 1940–2025.”

c) Dataset: “Monthly Population Estimates for the United States: April 1, 2010 to December 1, 2020.” U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division, December 2019. <www.census.gov>

d) Dataset: “HH-1. Households by Type: 1940 to Present.” U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, December 2020. <www.census.gov>

e) Dataset: “Table 1.1.5. Gross Domestic Product [Billions of Dollars].” United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last revised February 25, 2021. <www.bea.gov>

NOTE: An Excel file containing the data and calculations is available here.

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