Spending Overview

This page provides an overview of federal spending.  Move your cursor over the “SPENDING” tab above or use the menu below to access explanations of:

Source:  Nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, August 2016 Projections

The $4 trillion Federal Budget breaks down as follows in FY 2017:   (Move your cursor over the “Spending” tab above for further details of each component.)

  • Social Security: $944 billion
    Old-Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance.
  • Medicare: $593 billion (Gross Outlays of $708 billion minus $115 billion from premiums and other offsetting receipts)
    Medicare is national health insurance administered by the federal government for people 65 and over and disabled Americans. It is financed by payroll taxes, general tax revenues, premiums and copayments. The above number is Medicare outlays, net of premiums and other offsetting receipts.
  • Medicaid: $393 billion
    Medicaid, financed jointly by the federal and state governments, is administered by the states. It is the major health program for low-income Americans. A large portion of Medicaid pays for long-term care for low-income elderly.
  • Affordable Care Act Subsidies: $54 billion
  • Other Mandatory (Entitlement) Spending: $553 billion:
    “Mandatory spending,” as the words imply, is not discretionary, in the sense that Congress does not make annual decisions on how much to appropriate to these programs. Most mandatory spending is comprised of “entitlement programs,” the costs of which are driven by benefit or payment formulas written into the law. Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are the largest mandatory spending programs comprising nearly half of the budget, as displayed in the pie chart above.
  • Net Interest on the Debt: $303 billion
    Interest paid on the accumulated Federal debt.  Click on “Deficits and Debt” above for background and trends on Federal debt.
  • Defense Discretionary Spending: $592 billion
    Move your cursor over “Spending” above and click on “Defense” for background and trends on defense spending.  Move your cursor over the “Spending” tab above and click on “Defense” for program details and numbers.
  • Non-defense Discretionary: $615 billion
    Annual appropriations for a multitude of government operations and programs are often known as “non-defense discretionary” — Including law enforcement, veterans health care, homeland security, education, prisons, NASA, disease and epidemic control, highways & bridges, food and drug inspection, disaster relief, airports, health research, housing assistance, and many other functions of government.  Move your cursor over the “Spending” tab above and click on “Non-Defense” for program details and numbers.