The series of slides in this blog are modified from the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) February 2014 report “The Budget and Economic Outlook: 2014 to 2024”. The above slide shows federal spending broken out by major spending category. Note the vertical red dotted line showing where we are today.
The above slide highlights the growth in Net Interest, an increase of 1.9% of our GDP vs current spending levels. This is the largest area of growth projected in the budget, and is like the interest you pay on you credit card. America’s interest payments are just starting to accelerate, having been masked the last few years by historically low interest rates. If the actual interest rates exceed what CBO projects, roughly 5%, the costs of Net Interest will grow.
Other Mandatory Spending decreases relative to GDP by -0.3%, and is the only Mandatory Spending category that isn’t protected to consume even greater portions of the GDP.
Non-defense discretionary decreases by nearly 1% relative to GDP. This category, minus the Defense Department, includes most of the federal government’s agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security, NASA, National Science Foundation, Environmental Protection Agency, Departments of Justice, Labor, Agriculture, State, Transportation, Interior, HUD, Commerce…
Defense Discretionary, partly due to reductions instituted by Secretary Gates, and partly due to Sequestration, is projected to continue it’s decline relative to GDP. It is projected to drop to levels not seen since the 1930s, and as shown by the red circle and arrow, is projected to drop below interest spending by 2021. Interest spending is projected to begin dwarfing defense spending there on out. The increased cost of interest, along with health care and social security will dominate federal spending.
Social Security, now that the baby boomer retirements are well underway, continues to swell. Reforming it, in order to save the program from pending collapse, is essential. Despite it’s growth of 0.7% relative to GDP, that increase comes in third behind Interest and Health Care spending.
Major Health Care Spending, thanks to the passing of Obama Care, or the “Affordable Care Act” is now the largest part of the federal budget, and is projected to eat an additional 1.3% of America’s GDP by 2024. Combined with Social Security, Interest and Other Mandatory Spending, they are projected to eat 17.2% of GDP. The rest of the federal budget gets the scraps.