Federal Spending Now … and Then


Discussion of President Obama’s proposed fiscal 2011 budget has focused on several numbers: $3.8 trillion in spending and $1.3 trillion as the deficit.

Much has changed, of course, over the last 40-plus years but look at the share of the total budget for some of the top programs in 2011 compared to 1968 (middle of the Vietnam War and just the beginning of the Medicare program).

Program: Fiscal 2011; Fiscal 1968

Defense: 19.6%; 46%

Social Security: 19.0%; 13.3%

Medicare: 13.0%; 2.6%

Medicaid: 7.8%; 1.1%

Food stamps: 2.0%; 0%

Housing subsidies: 1.7%; 0% 

Supp. Security Income: 1.3%; 0%

Low-income tax credit: 1.2%; 0%

Pick different years and you would undoubtedly find other interesting comparisons.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *