Federal Spending – Fast Facts

All fast facts for federal spending are from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Although they represent many of their most recent reports on this subject, they do not represent all of their reports on this subject. Occasionally minor word adjustments may have been made for clarity or to reflect the updated nature of the statement.   As always, verify and view statements in their full context as often as possible.

At the end of 2010, domestic entities owned about 53 percent of the outstanding public debt, and foreign entities owned about 47 percent. Central banks and private entities in China, Japan, and the United Kingdom are the largest foreign investors.  Verify here
Assessing the government’s overall financial condition requires accounting not only for debt that the government has already incurred (and financial assets it has acquired) but also for commitments the government has made for the future.  Debt held by the public, with or without an adjustment for the government’s financial assets, does not account for such future obligations.  Verify here
Although the federal government has increased its net borrowing by more than $3 trillion in the past two years as of 2010, net interest costs dropped from $253 billion in 2008 to $197 billion in 2010 because of remarkably low interest rates.  Verify here
A sharp drop in interest rates has held down the amount of interest that the government pays on that debt.  Verify here
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that, under current law, debt held by the public will exceed $16 trillion by 2020, reaching nearly 70 percent of GDP. CBO also projects that interest rates will go up. The combination of rising debt and rising interest rates is projected to cause net interest payments to balloon to nearly $800 billion, or 3.4 percent of GDP, by 2020Verify here
For contrast to projected costs for net interest payments, in 2011 defense spending totaled $700 billion, Social Security totaled $725 billion, and Medicare and Medicaid together totaled $755 billion.  Verify here 
At the end of fiscal year 2011, debt held by the public amounted to $10.0 trillion, or 67% of GDP.  Another $4.6 trillion in Treasury securities were held by other government accounts, representing amounts that one part of the government (mostly the Social Security Administration) had lent to another (the Treasury).  Verify here
If policymakers wanted to boost the economy in the near term while seeking to achieve long-term fiscal sustainability, a combination of policies would be required: changes in taxes and spending that would widen the deficit now but reduce it later in the decade.  Such an approach would work best if the future policy changes were sufficiently specific and widely supported so that households, businesses, state and local governments, and participants in financial markets believed that the future fiscal restraint would truly take effect.  Verify at Page 4
According to the CBO, the President’s budgetary proposals for 2011 would cause Federal debt held by the public to double, growing from $10.4 trillion (69 percent of GDP) at the end of 2011 to $20.8 trillion (87 percent of GDP) at the end of 2021.  Deficits in succeeding years under the President’s March 2011 proposals would be smaller than the deficit in 2012, although they would still add significantly to federal debt.  In all, deficits would total $9.5 trillion between 2012 and 2021 under the President’s budget (or 4.8 percent of total GDP projected for that period) – $2.7 trillion more than the cumulative deficit in CBO’s baseline.  Verify here
Pages 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9