Spending

To better understand federal spending, let's look briefly at the FY 2010 federal budget in which the government projected it would spend approximately $3.6 trillion.  Federal spending is divided into mandatory spending which is required by law, and discretionary spending which is decided upon yearly by the President and Congress.

 Table 2. Estimated Federal Spending in FY 2010

Budget Item

Amount (Billions)

Percentage

Discretionary:

 

 

Defense

707

19.7%

Other Discretionary

687

19.1%

Mandatory:

 

 

Social Security

696

19.4%

Medicare & Medicaid

742

20.7%

TARP

8

.2%

Other Mandatory

604

16.8%

Net Interest on Debt

136

3.8%

Disaster Costs*

11

.3%

Total

3,591

100.0%

 *These costs represent the statistical probability of a major disaster requiring federal assistance for relief and construction. Such assistance might be provided in the form of discretionary or mandatory spending or tax relief. These amounts are included as spending for convenience.

http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/fy2010/assets/summary.pdf, Table S-4