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Looking back at 50 years of government spending

  • US National Archives // Flickr
    1/ US National Archives // Flickr

    Looking back at 50 years of government spending

    For Republicans, Democrats, and Independents, how the government spends taxpayer money is a source of interest. No matter which party is in the White House, more than half of the federal budget goes toward Social Security and Medicare—health care for the elderly. While funding the military is still of vital interest to the country, the U.S. spends less than half as much on defense as at it did in the 1960s.

    To fund the government, the president proposes a budget. Then Congress has to talk it over and vote before anything gets the green light. The approval process generally takes a considerable amount of time. To avoid a government shutdown, Congress usually ushers through temporary spending measures to keep things going.

    Using the most recent Congressional Budget Office (CBO) data released in April 2018, Stacker created a list looking back at 50 years of government spending. Governmental statistical agencies and private organizations collected the data, which includes the national income and product accounts, surveys of labor market conditions and prices, the Statistics of Income database, the Current Population Survey, the Survey of Income and Program Participation, data on national health expenditures, various health care surveys, and data on financial transactions. All figures have been adjusted to account for inflation.

    Click through to see what government spending looks like through the years.

    RELATED: 100 countries spending the most on their military

  • Schulimson // Wikimedia Commons
    2/ Schulimson // Wikimedia Commons

    1968

    Total spending: $178 billion ($1.282 trillion inflation-adjusted, 19.8% of GDP)

    Defense: $82 billion ($592 billion inflation-adjusted, 9.1% of GDP)

    Social Security: $23 billion ($168 billion inflation-adjusted, 2.6% of GDP)

    Medicare/Medicaid: $7 billion ($50 billion inflation-adjusted, 0.8% of GDP)

    The war in Vietnam continued in 1968, resulting in a rise in defense spending. President Lyndon B. Johnson requested a tax increase on both corporate and individual incomes—exempt to those in the low-income bracket—to help pay for the continued expenses of the war.

  • manhhai // Wikimedia Commons
    3/ manhhai // Wikimedia Commons

    1969

    Total spending: $184 billion ($1.253 trillion inflation-adjusted, 18.7% of GDP)

    Defense: $83 billion ($564 billion inflation-adjusted, 8.4% of GDP)

    Social Security: $27 billion ($182 billion inflation-adjusted, 2.7% of GDP)

    Medicare/Medicaid: $9 billion ($59 billion inflation-adjusted, 0.8% of GDP)

    Defense spending remained high to continue funding the Vietnam war effort. Because of the war, President Johnson requested delaying some federally funded programs and requested a tax increase. By the end of fiscal year 1969, the federal government ended up with a budget surplus.

  • Unknown // USAF
    4/ Unknown // USAF

    1970

    Total spending: $196 billion ($1.263 trillion inflation-adjusted, 18.6% of GDP)

    Defense: $82 billion ($529 billion inflation-adjusted, 7.8% of GDP)

    Social Security: $30 billion ($191 billion inflation-adjusted, 2.8% of GDP)

    Medicare/Medicaid: $10 billion ($61 billion inflation-adjusted, 0.9% of GDP)

    Before he left office, President Johnson—who signed Medicare and Medicaid into law in 1964—called for a focus on domestic programs to help “disadvantaged groups obtain a fairer share” of the economy. Spending on education, health care, pensions, and welfare all increased in 1970. The Environmental Protection Agency also formed the same year. Skylab, America’s first space station, also launched in 1970.

  • Nils Ally // Wikimedia Commons
    5/ Nils Ally // Wikimedia Commons

    1971

    Total spending: $210 billion ($1.3 trillion inflation-adjusted, 18.8% of GDP)

    Defense: $79 billion ($489 billion inflation-adjusted, 7.1% of GDP)

    Social Security: $35 billion ($217 billion inflation-adjusted, 3.1% of GDP)

    Medicare/Medicaid: $11 billion ($67 billion inflation-adjusted, 1% of GDP)

    President Richard Nixon began withdrawing troops from Vietnam in 1969. With the war winding down, defense spending decreased. Environmental supporters held the first Earth Day in 1970, and when President Nixon addressed Congress about the 1971 budget, he called for increased spending to protect environmental pollution.

  • Unknown // National Archives and Records Administration
    6/ Unknown // National Archives and Records Administration

    1972

    Total spending: $231 billion ($1.383 trillion inflation-adjusted, 18.9% of GDP)

    Defense: $79 billion ($475 billion inflation-adjusted, 6.5% of GDP)

    Social Security: $39 billion ($236 billion inflation-adjusted, 3.2% of GDP)

    Medicare/Medicaid: $13 billion ($78 billion inflation-adjusted, 1.1% of GDP)

    When President Nixon addressed Congress about his 1972 budget, he requested an increase in defense spending. However, the increase from 1971 was still a decrease in the percentage of the overall budget compared to previous years. Because of rising inflation, Nixon enacted a 90-day freeze on price and wages.

  • Knudsen, Robert L. // Wikimedia Commons
    7/ Knudsen, Robert L. // Wikimedia Commons

    1973

    Total spending: $246 billion ($1.386 trillion inflation-adjusted, 18.1% of GDP)

    Defense: $77 billion ($435 billion inflation-adjusted, 5.7% of GDP)

    Social Security: $48 billion ($272 billion inflation-adjusted, 3.6% of GDP)

    Medicare/Medicaid: $14 billion ($77 billion inflation-adjusted, 1% of GDP)

    New Social Security legislation led to an increase in Social Security spending in 1973. With the signing of the Paris Peace Accords, the United States ended its direct involvement with the Vietnam War. Defense spending decreased in 1973. Unfortunately, the cost of the war—along with rising gas prices and a crash on Wall Street, led to a two-year recession starting in 1973.

  • Paul Sableman // Flickr
    8/ Paul Sableman // Flickr

    1974

    Total spending: $269 billion ($1.369 trillion inflation-adjusted, 18.1% of GDP)

    Defense: $81 billion ($410 billion inflation-adjusted, 5.4% of GDP)

    Social Security: $55 billion ($279 billion inflation-adjusted, 3.7% of GDP)

    Medicare/Medicaid: $17 billion ($84 billion inflation-adjusted, 1.1% of GDP)

    In his 1974 budget, President Nixon focused on an increase in health care coverage and welfare reform, which both saw the largest increase in spending. The food stamps program (now known as SNAP) began, and Nixon expanded Medicaid with an HMO expansion bill—the Health Maintenance Organization Act, which passed at the end of 1973. Nixon ended the price-wage controls.

  • Ben Churchill // Flickr
    9/ Ben Churchill // Flickr

    1975

    Total spending: $332 billion ($1.547 trillion inflation-adjusted, 20.6% of GDP)

    Defense: $88 billion ($408 billion inflation-adjusted, 5.4% of GDP)

    Social Security: $64 billion ($296 billion inflation-adjusted, 3.9% of GDP)

    Medicare/Medicaid: $21 billion ($97 billion inflation-adjusted, 1.3% of GDP)

    Spending on social welfare programs increased in 1975. Funding continued for welfare programs like food stamps and the Supplemental Security Income, which provides money and access to Medicaid for those 65 and older, and for those who are blind or disabled.

  • Thomas J. O'Halloran // Wikimedia Commons
    10/ Thomas J. O'Halloran // Wikimedia Commons

    1976

    Total spending: $372 billion ($1.637 trillion inflation-adjusted, 20.8% of GDP)

    Defense: $90 billion ($396 billion inflation-adjusted, 5% of GDP)

    Social Security: $73 billion ($320 billion inflation-adjusted, 4.1% of GDP)

    Medicare/Medicaid: $26 billion ($112 billion inflation-adjusted, 1.4% of GDP)

    With the Vietnam war in the past, defense spending continued to see the smallest increase of any federal program in 1976. President Gerald Ford cut taxes going into fiscal year 1976, but he vowed not to increase spending on programs other than those dedicated to national security and achieving energy independence.

  • David Hume Kennerly // Wikimedia Commons
    11/ David Hume Kennerly // Wikimedia Commons

    1977

    Total spending: $409 billion ($1.691 trillion inflation-adjusted, 20.2% of GDP)

    Defense: $98 billion ($403 billion inflation-adjusted, 4.8% of GDP)

    Social Security: $84 billion ($346 billion inflation-adjusted, 4.1% of GDP)

    Medicare/Medicaid: $31 billion ($127 billion inflation-adjusted, 1.5% of GDP)

    Defending the country was a high priority for President Ford, so he increased defense spending. Funding for Medicare heightened, and a cost-of-living increase for Social Security went through.


     

  • David Hume Kennerly // Wikimedia Commons
    12/ David Hume Kennerly // Wikimedia Commons

    1978

    Total spending: $459 billion ($1.762 trillion inflation-adjusted, 20.1% of GDP)

    Defense: $105 billion ($402 billion inflation-adjusted, 4.6% of GDP)

    Social Security: $92 billion ($355 billion inflation-adjusted, 4.1% of GDP)

    Medicare/Medicaid: $35 billion ($134 billion inflation-adjusted, 1.6% of GDP)

    President Ford cut taxes and called for a consolidation of other federal programs. While Ford wanted to decrease spending on programs like food stamps, the Democratic-controlled Congress led to an increase in welfare spending during Ford’s presidency.

  • John Vachon // Wikimedia Commons
    13/ John Vachon // Wikimedia Commons

    1979

    Total spending: $504 billion ($1.739 trillion inflation-adjusted, 19.6% of GDP)

    Defense: $117 billion ($403 billion inflation-adjusted, 4.5% of GDP)

    Social Security: $103 billion ($354 billion inflation-adjusted, 4% of GDP)

    Medicare/Medicaid: $41 billion ($140 billion inflation-adjusted, 1.6% of GDP)

    President Jimmy Carter’s 1979 budget sought an increase in spending only slightly higher than was needed to offset inflation. There was an increase in defense spending and other programs, but no major initiatives were passed. However, Carter did ask for an increase in funding for civil rights enforcement as the country increased desegregation in public schools.

  • Unknown // Flickr
    14/ Unknown // Flickr

    1980

    Total spending: $591 billion ($1.796 trillion inflation-adjusted, 21.1% of GDP)

    Defense: $135 billion ($409 billion inflation-adjusted, 4.8% of GDP)

    Social Security: $117 billion ($356 billion inflation-adjusted, 4.2% of GDP)

    Medicare/Medicaid: $48 billion ($146 billion inflation-adjusted, 1.7% of GDP)

    As inflation and oil prices increased, President Carter focused most of the budget increase on welfare programs including Medicaid, food stamps, Supplemental Security Income Program, and Aid to Families with Dependent Children. Spending on unemployment insurance reached its highest level—at the time—in 1980.

  • White House Photographic Office // Wikimedia Commons
    15/ White House Photographic Office // Wikimedia Commons

    1981

    Total spending: $678 billion ($1.869 trillion inflation-adjusted, 21.6% of GDP)

    Defense: $158 billion ($435 billion inflation-adjusted, 5% of GDP)

    Social Security: $138 billion ($380 billion inflation-adjusted, 4.4% of GDP)

    Medicare/Medicaid: $58 billion ($160 billion inflation-adjusted, 1.8% of GDP)

    In 1981, there were no large cuts to any social programs. Defense and Social Security saw the largest increases. Due to inflation and the subsequent recession, overall spending increased more than President Jimmy Carter had hoped. After the election of President Ronald Reagan, the country saw the largest tax cuts in history when the Economic Recovery Tax Act—also known as Reaganomics—was signed.

  • Pixabay
    16/ Pixabay

    1982

    Total spending: $746 billion ($1.936 trillion inflation-adjusted, 22.5% of GDP)

    Defense: $186 billion ($483 billion inflation-adjusted, 5.6% of GDP)

    Social Security: $154 billion ($400 billion inflation-adjusted, 4.6% of GDP)

    Medicare/Medicaid: $67 billion ($173 billion inflation-adjusted, 2% of GDP)

    President Reagan did not approve of “excessive” government spending on programs like food stamps. So in 1982, welfare funding decreased, and defense spending rose. To combat unemployment, Congress passed the Job Training Partnership Act to create job-training programs for low-income people.

  • Michael Evans // Wikimedia Commons
    17/ Michael Evans // Wikimedia Commons

    1983

    Total spending: $808 billion ($2.033 trillion inflation-adjusted, 22.8% of GDP)

    Defense: $210 billion ($528 billion inflation-adjusted, 5.9% of GDP)

    Social Security: $169 billion ($424 billion inflation-adjusted, 4.8% of GDP)

    Medicare/Medicaid: $75 billion ($187 billion inflation-adjusted, 2.1% of GDP)

    Before President Reagan sent his 1983 budget to Congress, the Congressional Budget Office warned that the previous increase in defense spending paired with tax cuts would drastically increase the federal deficit. Reagan still increased defense spending while cutting funding for education and welfare programs that mostly affected the poor.

  • Pixabay
    18/ Pixabay

    1984

    Total spending: $852 billion ($2.054 trillion inflation-adjusted, 21.5% of GDP)

    Defense: $228 billion ($550 billion inflation-adjusted, 5.8% of GDP)

    Social Security: $176 billion ($425 billion inflation-adjusted, 4.5% of GDP)

    Medicare/Medicaid: $81 billion ($196 billion inflation-adjusted, 2% of GDP)

    The 1984 budget saw cuts in welfare services, including continued cuts to the Aid to Families with Dependent Children program. Cost-of-living increases were delayed for those receiving federal retirement and Social Security benefits.

  • Public Domain // US National Archives
    19/ Public Domain // US National Archives

    1985

    Total spending: $946 billion ($2.203 trillion inflation-adjusted, 22.2% of GDP)

    Defense: $253 billion ($589 billion inflation-adjusted, 5.9% of GDP)

    Social Security: $186 billion ($434 billion inflation-adjusted, 4.4% of GDP)

    Medicare/Medicaid: $92 billion ($215 billion inflation-adjusted, 2.1% of GDP)

    President Reagan continued his trend of cutting social programs and increasing defense spending. The U.S. also withdrew its funding for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) the same year.


     

  • The U.S. Army // Wikimedia Commons
    20/ The U.S. Army // Wikimedia Commons

    1986

    Total spending: $990 billion ($2.264 trillion inflation-adjusted, 21.8% of GDP)

    Defense: $274 billion ($626 billion inflation-adjusted, 6% of GDP)

    Social Security: $197 billion ($449 billion inflation-adjusted, 4.3% of GDP)

    Medicare/Medicaid: $99 billion ($227 billion inflation-adjusted, 2.2% of GDP)

    After a seven-week deadlock, Congress adopted the 1986 budget. The compromise included no significant changes to taxes or Social Security, and allowed military spending to increase only with inflation. Deep cuts to social services that impact the elderly and poor were avoided. The fiscal 1986 federal deficit hit $220.7 billion, the highest in history at the time.

  • James St. John // Flickr
    21/ James St. John // Flickr

    1987

    Total spending: $1.004 trillion ($2.214 trillion inflation-adjusted, 21% of GDP)

    Defense: $283 billion ($623 billion inflation-adjusted, 5.9% of GDP)

    Social Security: $205 billion ($452 billion inflation-adjusted, 4.3% of GDP)

    Medicare/Medicaid: $107 billion ($237 billion inflation-adjusted, 2.3% of GDP)

    In 1987, President Reagan sent the first trillion dollar budget. He continued his efforts to eliminate federal funding for the Amtrak rail service and lower spending for food stamps and federal housing while increasing defense spending, but at a smaller rate than in his previous budgets. At the beginning of the 1987 fiscal year, Reagan lowered individual tax rates again when he signed the Tax Reform Act of 1986.

  • MartinHagberg // Wikimedia Commons
    22/ MartinHagberg // Wikimedia Commons

    1988

    Total spending: $1.064 trillion ($2.254 trillion inflation-adjusted, 20.6% of GDP)

    Defense: $291 billion ($616 billion inflation-adjusted, 5.6% of GDP)

    Social Security: $217 billion ($459 billion inflation-adjusted, 4.2% of GDP)

    Medicare/Medicaid: $116 billion ($246 billion inflation-adjusted, 2.3% of GDP)

    The 1988 budget didn’t have any major changes from the previous year and did nothing to decrease the federal deficit. The budget angered some Democrats because it provided funding for rebels fighting the government of Nicaragua.

  • Pixabay
    23/ Pixabay

    1989

    Total spending: $1.144 trillion ($2.31 trillion inflation-adjusted, 20.5% of GDP)

    Defense: $304 billion ($614 billion inflation-adjusted, 5.5% of GDP)

    Social Security: $230 billion ($465 billion inflation-adjusted, 4.1% of GDP)

    Medicare/Medicaid: $128 billion ($258 billion inflation-adjusted, 2.3% of GDP)

    Congress disputed the 1989 budget for a month. The final budget placed limits on military, domestic, and international spending, but it didn’t include any automatic spending cuts. While most programs were given just enough to keep up with inflation, extra funding went toward AIDS research and treatment, anti-drug initiatives, and space and air traffic control.

     

  • Pixabay
    24/ Pixabay

    1990

    Total spending: $1.253 trillion ($2.402 trillion inflation-adjusted, 21.2% of GDP)

    Defense: $300 billion ($575 billion inflation-adjusted, 5.1% of GDP)

    Social Security: $247 billion ($472 billion inflation-adjusted, 4.2% of GDP)

    Medicare/Medicaid: $148 billion ($284 billion inflation-adjusted, 2.5% of GDP)

    The 1990 budget saw a slight decrease in defense spending, with an increase in funding for health care and welfare programs. In accordance with the budget-balancing law, the plan left a deficit of $99.7 billion, which was just shy of the $100 billion ceiling.

  • AJ Guel // Wikimedia Commons
    25/ AJ Guel // Wikimedia Commons

    1991

    Total spending: $1.324 trillion ($2.435 trillion inflation-adjusted, 21.7% of GDP)

    Defense: $320 billion ($588 billion inflation-adjusted, 5.2% of GDP)

    Social Security: $267 billion ($491 billion inflation-adjusted, 4.4% of GDP)

    Medicare/Medicaid: $167 billion ($307 billion inflation-adjusted, 2.8% of GDP)

    The government shut down for three days before the House could agree on a budget for 1991. Although President George H.W. Bush campaigned on the promise that he wouldn’t raise taxes, he broke this pledge with the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990, causing a revolt among members of his own party. The law raised taxes on those in the top income tax bracket, set a cap on discretionary spending like defense, and required that any new entitlement benefits or tax cuts be paid for by making cuts elsewhere.


     

  • Pixabay
    26/ Pixabay

    1992

    Total spending: $1.382 trillion ($2.467 trillion inflation-adjusted, 21.5% of GDP)

    Defense: $303 billion ($540 billion inflation-adjusted, 4.7% of GDP)

    Social Security: $285 billion ($509 billion inflation-adjusted, 4.4% of GDP)

    Medicare/Medicaid: $197 billion ($352 billion inflation-adjusted, 3.1% of GDP)

    As more Americans joined Medicaid, expenses for the health care program increased. The recession contributed to the rise.

  • Pixabay
    27/ Pixabay

    1993

    Total spending: $1.409 trillion ($2.443 trillion inflation-adjusted, 20.7% of GDP)

    Defense: $292 billion ($507 billion inflation-adjusted, 4.3% of GDP)

    Social Security: $302 billion ($524 billion inflation-adjusted, 4.4% of GDP)

    Medicare/Medicaid: $219 billion ($380 billion inflation-adjusted, 3.2% of GDP)

    As the economy recovered from a recession, the 1993 budget showed only modest increases in spending. However, Social Security overtook defense spending for the first time.

  • Kenneth C. Zirkel // Wikimedia Commons
    28/ Kenneth C. Zirkel // Wikimedia Commons

    1994

    Total spending: $1.462 trillion ($2.471 trillion inflation-adjusted, 20.3% of GDP)

    Defense: $282 billion ($477 billion inflation-adjusted, 3.9% of GDP)

    Social Security: $317 billion ($536 billion inflation-adjusted, 4.4% of GDP)

    Medicare/Medicaid: $242 billion ($408 billion inflation-adjusted, 3.3% of GDP)

    In the first budget proposed by President Bill Clinton, spending on defense decreased. In an effort to reduce the deficit, Clinton signed the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993, which raised corporate taxes and those on the wealthy—the highest peacetime tax hike in history. Social Security benefits for high income earners were also taxed.

  • Senior Airman Jeffrey Allen // USAF
    29/ Senior Airman Jeffrey Allen // USAF

    1995

    Total spending: $1.516 trillion ($2.491 trillion inflation-adjusted, 20% of GDP)

    Defense: $274 billion ($450 billion inflation-adjusted, 3.6% of GDP)

    Social Security: $333 billion ($548 billion inflation-adjusted, 4.4% of GDP)

    Medicare/Medicaid: $266 billion ($438 billion inflation-adjusted, 3.5% of GDP)

    With no wars on the horizon, defense spending decreased. President Bill Clinton significantly reduced the size of the military. However, these cutbacks were a continuation of reductions enacted by his predecessor, President George H.W. Bush.

  • Maureen Keating // Wikimedia Commons
    30/ Maureen Keating // Wikimedia Commons

    1996

    Total spending: $1.561 trillion ($2.491 trillion inflation-adjusted, 19.6% of GDP)

    Defense: $266 billion ($425 billion inflation-adjusted, 3.3% of GDP)

    Social Security: $347 billion ($554 billion inflation-adjusted, 4.3% of GDP)

    Medicare/Medicaid: $283 billion ($452 billion inflation-adjusted, 3.6% of GDP)

    The U.S. government shut down over the 1996 budget due to a disagreement over domestic spending cuts between President Clinton and Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. In the end, both parties agreed to balance the budget in seven years.

  • Gage Skidmore // Wikimedia Commons
    31/ Gage Skidmore // Wikimedia Commons

    1997

    Total spending: $1.601 trillion ($2.499 trillion inflation-adjusted, 18.9% of GDP)

    Defense: $272 billion ($424 billion inflation-adjusted, 3.2% of GDP)

    Social Security: $362 billion ($565 billion inflation-adjusted, 4.3% of GDP)

    Medicare/Medicaid: $304 billion ($474 billion inflation-adjusted, 3.6% of GDP)

    Right before the start of the 1997 fiscal year, President Clinton signed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act. The act increased the work requirement for welfare recipients, gave state governments more responsibility over welfare services, and reduced welfare spending by the federal government.
     

  • Pixabay
    32/ Pixabay

    1998

    Total spending: $1.653 trillion ($2.54 trillion inflation-adjusted, 18.5% of GDP)

    Defense: $270 billion ($415 billion inflation-adjusted, 3% of GDP)

    Social Security: $376 billion ($578 billion inflation-adjusted, 4.2% of GDP)

    Medicare/Medicaid: $312 billion ($480 billion inflation-adjusted, 3.5% of GDP)

    Fiscal year 1998 ended in a budget surplus for the first time in 30 years. With America in peacetime, the economy expanded, and President Clinton did not increase defense spending.

  • Sarah C // Flickr
    33/ Sarah C // Flickr

    1999

    Total spending: $1.702 trillion ($2.559 trillion inflation-adjusted, 17.9% of GDP)

    Defense: $276 billion ($414 billion inflation-adjusted, 2.9% of GDP)

    Social Security: $387 billion ($582 billion inflation-adjusted, 4.1% of GDP)

    Medicare/Medicaid: $317 billion ($477 billion inflation-adjusted, 3.3% of GDP)

    The 1999 budget preserved the budget surplus. The bill also included a measure requiring health care providers to cover most prescription contraceptives for federal workers. However, it allowed individual doctors to deny coverage if they objected on a moral or religious basis.

  • R. D. Ward // Wikimedia Commons
    34/ R. D. Ward // Wikimedia Commons

    2000

    Total spending: $1.789 trillion ($2.602 trillion inflation-adjusted, 17.6% of GDP)

    Defense: $295 billion ($429 billion inflation-adjusted, 2.9% of GDP)

    Social Security: $406 billion ($591 billion inflation-adjusted, 4% of GDP)

    Medicare/Medicaid: $334 billion ($486 billion inflation-adjusted, 3.3% of GDP)

    Congress managed to approve the budget on time for fiscal year 2000, with spending on par with that of the previous year. President Clinton boasted another year of surplus, the largest in history.

  • US National Archives // Flickr
    35/ US National Archives // Flickr

    2001

    Total spending: $1.863 trillion ($2.635 trillion inflation-adjusted, 17.6% of GDP)

    Defense: $306 billion ($433 billion inflation-adjusted, 2.9% of GDP)

    Social Security: $429 billion ($607 billion inflation-adjusted, 4.1% of GDP)

    Medicare/Medicaid: $367 billion ($520 billion inflation-adjusted, 3.5% of GDP)

    The budget surplus shrank under President George W. Bush. In 2001, the U.S. experienced an eight-month recession. To aid in recovery, the president enacted the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act, also known as the Bush tax cuts.

  • Eric Draper
    36/ Eric Draper

    2002

    Total spending: $2.011 trillion ($2.8 trillion inflation-adjusted, 18.5% of GDP)

    Defense: $349 billion ($486 billion inflation-adjusted, 3.2% of GDP)

    Social Security: $452 billion ($630 billion inflation-adjusted, 4.2% of GDP)

    Medicare/Medicaid: $401 billion ($559 billion inflation-adjusted, 3.7% of GDP)

    The approved 2002 budget was similar to the original proposed by President Bush. It called for tax cuts and asked for an increase in defense spending. The USA Patriot Act, which passed in response to the World Trade Center attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 and increased law enforcement’s ability to conduct searches relating to terrorism, passed in fiscal year 2002. The U.S. also entered into a war with Afghanistan, which ultimately became the longest war in U.S. history.


     

  • Arlo K. Abrahamson // Wikimedia Commons
    37/ Arlo K. Abrahamson // Wikimedia Commons

    2003

    Total spending: $2.16 trillion ($2.941 trillion inflation-adjusted, 19.1% of GDP)

    Defense: $405 billion ($551 billion inflation-adjusted, 3.6% of GDP)

    Social Security: $471 billion ($641 billion inflation-adjusted, 4.2% of GDP)

    Medicare/Medicaid: $435 billion ($592 billion inflation-adjusted, 3.8% of GDP)

    Defense spending continued to increase in 2003. The Department of Homeland Security was created at the start of the fiscal year, with the invasion of Iraq taking place in May 2003.

  • Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson // Wikimedia Commons
    38/ Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson // Wikimedia Commons

    2004

    Total spending: $2.293 trillion ($3.04 trillion inflation-adjusted, 19% of GDP)

    Defense: $454 billion ($602 billion inflation-adjusted, 3.8% of GDP)

    Social Security: $492 billion ($652 billion inflation-adjusted, 4.1% of GDP)

    Medicare/Medicaid: $473 billion ($628 billion inflation-adjusted, 4% of GDP)

    The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq continued and so did the rise in defense spending. The president also called for more tax cuts.

  • Dan Smith // Wikimedia Commons
    39/ Dan Smith // Wikimedia Commons

    2005

    Total spending: $2.472 trillion ($3.171 trillion inflation-adjusted, 19.2% of GDP)

    Defense: $494 billion ($633 billion inflation-adjusted, 3.8% of GDP)

    Social Security: $519 billion ($665 billion inflation-adjusted, 4% of GDP)

    Medicare/Medicaid: $517 billion ($663 billion inflation-adjusted, 4% of GDP)

    Spending in 2005 mirrored that of 2004. Defense spending continued to be a priority for President Bush, who sought cuts or eliminations in many domestic programs, including funding for drug treatment centers and the air traffic system. He also sought to make his tax cuts permanent.

  • Josh Glassburn, USN // Wikimedia Commons
    40/ Josh Glassburn, USN // Wikimedia Commons

    2006

    Total spending: $2.655 trillion ($3.299 trillion inflation-adjusted, 19.4% of GDP)

    Defense: $520 billion ($646 billion inflation-adjusted, 3.8% of GDP)

    Social Security: $544 billion ($676 billion inflation-adjusted, 4% of GDP)

    Medicare/Medicaid: $557 billion ($693 billion inflation-adjusted, 4.1% of GDP)

    The budget deficit reached an all-time high in 2006. The approved budget saw cuts to Medicaid and a freeze on domestic programs, but there were no cuts on funding for the military and domestic security.

  • U.S. Navy photo // Wikimedia Commons
    41/ U.S. Navy photo // Wikimedia Commons

    2007

    Total spending: $2.729 trillion ($3.297 trillion inflation-adjusted, 19.1% of GDP)

    Defense: $548 billion ($662 billion inflation-adjusted, 3.8% of GDP)

    Social Security: $581 billion ($703 billion inflation-adjusted, 4.1% of GDP)

    Medicare/Medicaid: $627 billion ($757 billion inflation-adjusted, 4.3% of GDP)

    The trend in prioritizing defense spending over funding domestic programs continued in 2007. President Bush increased the number of troops in Iraq in January 2007.

  • Wendy Piersall //Wikimedia Commons
    42/ Wendy Piersall //Wikimedia Commons

    2008

    Total spending: $2.983 trillion ($3.47 trillion inflation-adjusted, 20.2% of GDP)

    Defense: $612 billion ($713 billion inflation-adjusted, 4.2% of GDP)

    Social Security: $612 billion ($712 billion inflation-adjusted, 4.1% of GDP)

    Medicare/Medicaid: $657 billion ($765 billion inflation-adjusted, 4.5% of GDP)

    With no withdrawal timetable in sight, the Democratic-led Congress approved more funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Health care spending on Medicaid and Medicare also increased in 2008.

  • U.S. Air Force // Public Domain
    43/ U.S. Air Force // Public Domain

    2009

    Total spending: $3.518 trillion ($4.108 trillion inflation-adjusted, 24.4% of GDP)

    Defense: $657 billion ($767 billion inflation-adjusted, 4.6% of GDP)

    Social Security: $678 billion ($791 billion inflation-adjusted, 4.7% of GDP)

    Medicare/Medicaid: $751 billion ($877 billion inflation-adjusted, 5.2% of GDP)

    America was in the midst of the worst recession since the Great Depression, so President Barack Obama passed an almost $800 billion stimulus package shortly after his inauguration. The biggest banks in the country received federal bailouts to prevent their bankruptcy and a further collapse of the American economy. The recession contributed to a large budget deficit. Obama introduced the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, in 2009.

  • Pete Souza // Official White House Photo
    44/ Pete Souza // Official White House Photo

    2010

    Total spending: $3.457 trillion ($3.971 trillion inflation-adjusted, 23.4% of GDP)

    Defense: $689 billion ($791 billion inflation-adjusted, 4.7% of GDP)

    Social Security: $701 billion ($805 billion inflation-adjusted, 4.7% of GDP)

    Medicare/Medicaid: $793 billion ($911 billion inflation-adjusted, 5.3% of GDP)

    Fiscal year 2010 marked the first budget proposed by President Obama. Banks—including smaller community banks—continued to receive federal funds. In March 2010, Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law, increasing government spending on health care.

  • Wknight94 // Wikimedia Commons
    45/ Wknight94 // Wikimedia Commons

    2011

    Total spending: $3.603 trillion ($4.013 trillion inflation-adjusted, 23.4% of GDP)

    Defense: $699 billion ($779 billion inflation-adjusted, 4.5% of GDP)

    Social Security: $725 billion ($807 billion inflation-adjusted, 4.7% of GDP)

    Medicare/Medicaid: $835 billion ($930 billion inflation-adjusted, 5.4% of GDP)

    Half of the fiscal year was already over before Republicans and Democrats agreed to a budget for 2011. With one hour to spare, Congress voted on a bill. Democrats agreed to cutting a larger amount from the budget than they would have liked when the Republicans agreed not to ask for the defunding of Planned Parenthood. Obamacare provided subsidies to those who couldn’t afford health insurance, which led to an all-time high in spending for health care.

  • AFGE // Flickr
    46/ AFGE // Flickr

    2012

    Total spending: $3.537 trillion ($3.859 trillion inflation-adjusted, 22.1% of GDP)

    Defense: $671 billion ($732 billion inflation-adjusted, 4.2% of GDP)

    Social Security: $768 billion ($838 billion inflation-adjusted, 4.8% of GDP)

    Medicare/Medicaid: $802 billion ($875 billion inflation-adjusted, 5% of GDP)

    While Congress passed stop-gap measures to fund the government, they never officially agreed on a budget for 2012. This created a debt-ceiling crisis, which resulted in a downgrade of America’s credit rating.


     

  • Chuck Kennedy // Official White House Photo
    47/ Chuck Kennedy // Official White House Photo

    2013

    Total spending: $3.455 trillion ($3.714 trillion inflation-adjusted, 20.9% of GDP)

    Defense: $626 billion ($673 billion inflation-adjusted, 3.8% of GDP)

    Social Security: $808 billion ($868 billion inflation-adjusted, 4.9% of GDP)

    Medicare/Medicaid: $851 billion ($914 billion inflation-adjusted, 5.1% of GDP)

    President Obama’s 2013 budget was never approved. The Republican-controlled house—which sought to repeal Obamacare and privatize Medicare—passed continuing measures to keep the government funded instead of agreeing on a plan for the budget.

  • Vernon Young // Wikimedia Commons
    48/ Vernon Young // Wikimedia Commons

    2014

    Total spending: $3.506 trillion ($3.711 trillion inflation-adjusted, 20.3% of GDP)

    Defense: $596 billion ($631 billion inflation-adjusted, 3.5% of GDP)

    Social Security: $845 billion ($894 billion inflation-adjusted, 4.9% of GDP)

    Medicare/Medicaid: $901 billion ($954 billion inflation-adjusted, 5.2% of GDP)

    The government shut down for 16 days when they couldn’t agree on the 2014 budget, which mainly occurred because of Republican disapproval over funding for Obamacare. The shutdown ended with minor changes to the president’s health care legacy and an increase in the debt ceiling.

  • Gen. Martin E. Dempsey // Photo by Glenn Fawcett // US Dept of Defense
    49/ Gen. Martin E. Dempsey // Photo by Glenn Fawcett // US Dept of Defense

    2015

    Total spending: $3.688 trillion ($3.898 trillion inflation-adjusted, 20.5% of GDP)

    Defense: $583 billion ($617 billion inflation-adjusted, 3.2% of GDP)

    Social Security: $882 billion ($932 billion inflation-adjusted, 4.9% of GDP)

    Medicare/Medicaid: $984 billion ($1.04 trillion inflation-adjusted, 5.4% of GDP)

    While the government almost faced another shutdown due to partisan disagreements, both parties agreed on including $64 billion in spending for operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, along with training Syrian rebels in their fight against the Islamic State. The bill also included a 1% pay increase for soldiers and a 1% cost-of-living increase for federal workers.

  • Gage Skidmore // Wikimedia Commons
    50/ Gage Skidmore // Wikimedia Commons

    2016

    Total spending: $3.853 trillion ($4.021 trillion inflation-adjusted, 20.9% of GDP)

    Defense: $585 billion ($610 billion inflation-adjusted, 3.2% of GDP)

    Social Security: $910 billion ($950 billion inflation-adjusted, 4.9% of GDP)

    Medicare/Medicaid: $1.061 trillion ($1.107 trillion inflation-adjusted, 5.7% of GDP)

    Congress passed the 2016 budget on Dec. 18, 2015, avoiding a government shutdown right before the holidays. The budget provided additional funding for expanded Medicaid and Medicare programs, but it postponed taxes that would fund Obamacare in the future. It also kept tax cuts and increased defense spending.

  • Office of the President of the United States // Wikimedia Commons
    51/ Office of the President of the United States // Wikimedia Commons

    2017

    Total spending: $3.982 trillion ($4.069 trillion inflation-adjusted, 20.8% of GDP)

    Defense: $590 billion ($603 billion inflation-adjusted, 3.1% of GDP)

    Social Security: $939 billion ($960 billion inflation-adjusted, 4.9% of GDP)

    Medicare/Medicaid: $1.077 trillion ($1.101 trillion inflation-adjusted, 5.7% of GDP)

    Congress agreed on a budget in April 2017—six months after the Oct. 1 beginning of the fiscal year. The Trump administration agreed to keep funding major parts of the 2010 Affordable Care Act and eliminate their request for funding a wall along the Mexican border.


     

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