Who gets what share of the federal budget pie has shifted over the decades, with the military taking less and entitlement programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid getting far more. Education, housing and labor are also coping with smaller shares.
Forget the raw dollar amounts — it is hard because the numbers are so gigantic. The government’s priorities in spending can be seen in percentages by federal agencies with data going back to 1976 and you don’t have to adjust for inflation. Think of the president’s proposed $4 trillion dollar budget proposal as just a $100 bill, here’s how much each department would get if the president has his way and how they compare to past actual spending.
Between the two of them, Social Security and the Health and Human Services Department grab more than half of the mythical $100 bill. Health and Human Services would get $26.88 and Social Security $24.87. By comparison, in 1976 the earlier version of human services got $9.60 and Social Security $19.
Even with war spending, the Defense Department would get $16.03 in the president’s proposal, down from a 40-year peak of $28 in 1984 during the Ronald Reagan administration.
After entitlements and defense, the next biggest spending agency is the Treasury Department, where federal debt interest is paid. This year that’s $14.19 of the $100 bill. That’s dropped from $22.60 in the 2008 budget, but is at about the same percentage of the early 1980s.
Veterans would get $4.07 of the $100, down slightly from $4.60 in 2014, but still above percentages that were seen from 1978 to 2013. Just 10 years ago, veterans got only $2.60 out of every $100 the federal government spent.
The Education Department’s share of the budget pie has dropped nearly in half from $3.60 in 2006 to $1.81, but still up from 2013’s low of $1.10. But that’s nothing compared to what’s happened to the Housing and Urban Development Department. That agency in 1976 got $6.90 out of every $100 in federal spending, but now gets $1.19. The Labor Department dropped from $5.40 to $1.96 in that same 40-year time period.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Go Figure, an occasional feature from The Associated Press, explores the news through numbers and what they mean.
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