The recent record $1.6 billion Powerball lottery jackpot captured the nation’s attention. The sum is so immense, it’s hard for most of us to wrap our minds around. Another immense sum that’s hard for Americans to wrap their minds around is the amount of hardworking taxpayers’ money that the federal government spends on an annual and daily basis. In fiscal year 2015, the federal government spent $3,700 billion (or $3.7 trillion), which is more than $10 billion per day.
The spending bill, which is more than 2,000 pages long, contains funding for numerous programs that largely benefit particular interest groups at the expense of taxpayers and the broader economy. This week’s holiday-themed graphic singles out 12 examples, but it by no means represents all of the gifts for special interests contained in the bill. Although the individual sums are not large relative to the overall spending contained in the bill, the examples highlight the problem with a federal government that faces few limits on how it can spend taxpayer money.
Americans have become increasingly aware of the detrimental role of cronyism—in their lives and the economy in general—where certain industries extract privileges from the federal government. That means that the federal sugar racket, which clearly benefits the few at the expense of many, should be a prime target of policymakers looking to chip away at “corporate welfare.”…
This week’s chart looks at total OCO funding from fiscal year (FY) 2001 to projected FY 2016, which amounts to a cumulative $1.75 trillion. Of that amount, 92 percent has gone to the Pentagon and the rest went to the State Department, US Agency for International Development, and the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, freshly signed into law by President Obama, suspends the $18.1 trillion federal debt ceiling until March 2017. It also busts the 2011 Budget Control Act—which I previously discussed—for the second time. It does so by raising the caps on discretionary funding by $50 billion for fiscal year (FY) 2016 and $30 billion for FY 2017.
Lawmakers on Capitol Hill continue to find more ways to raise funding above the level permitted by the caps. Republicans would like to increase the caps on defense funding while Democrats would like to increase the caps on nondefense funding. That should concern taxpayers because, as the following charts show, the caps and accompanying sequestration enforcement mechanism have been successful in constraining the discretionary share of the federal budget.
As I underscored in two recent charts, the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program is financially unsustainable, and to save it, policymakers need to rein in benefits, which have exploded in recent years. This week’s charts add two important points: first, that SSDI has turned into a quasi-unemployment program, and second, that the good intentions that prompt the creation of federal programs are not enough to prevent poor and costly outcomes.
The 2015 annual report from the Social Security Board of Trustees shows that the program’s disability component is in immediate trouble. Data from the latest report show that the disability fund will be depleted as soon as next year and unable to pay full benefits to beneficiaries. This week’s first chart uses that data to show total income, expenditures, and assets in the Social Security Disability Insurance (DI) trust fund going back to 1980.
Defenders of the US Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im Bank) cite its working capital programs as evidence that the agency plays a critical role in supporting small businesses. As one of four main components of Ex-Im’s export subsidies, the working capital programs represent a relatively small component of the agency’s overall portfolio. The agency as a whole mainly benefits large, politically connected firms, as I have previously demonstrated.
The following chart shows projected revenues and spending under the president’s proposal according to the new figures provided by the MSR. The first graph displays the data in dollar amounts while the second shows revenues and spending as a share of the economy (GDP).