The U.S. Federal Budget

The key issues in the federal budget, as in any budget, are where the money comes from and where it goes.

Where It Goes: Composition of Federal Outlays

In most fiscal years, 53 to 56 percent of the federal budget consists of mandated expenditures—specifically, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. U.S. federal fiscal years end on September 30, so that fiscal year (FY) 2011 ends on September 30, 2011. Another 4 to 10 percent of the budget consists of interest payments on the debt. They, too, are “mandated,” because the Treasury cannot default on interest payments. So mandated expenditures plus interest amount to about 60 to 63 percent of total expenditures, and any administration, of either party, is stuck with that ...

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