National Total Spending

Published on March 14th, 2017 | by Adrianna Cole


The United States Spending at a Glance

President Donald Trump, in Late February, announced that he would be increasing the military and defense budget by 10 percent. While the administration is preparing the 2018 federal budget, several politicians and ordinary citizens disagree with the current plan released to the public.


Memes such as this have circled around the internet as an attempt to explain the U.S. Spending. Sometimes, these charts are misleading or do not show the whole truth.

Charts such as the one on the right have floated around the internet, but what is shown does not even begin to scrape the surface.

Two years ago, Politifact dissected this particular chart and explained why it shows one aspect of the government spending and misleads readers. The chart only shows the discretionary spending, which, according to the Office of Management and Budget, is less than one-third of the total government spending.

There are three types of spending that the United States has: mandatory, discretionary, and interest of debt. The smallest category being interest of debt at 6 percent, and the largest category being mandatory spending at 65 percent.

Military spending is shown to be about 53 percent of 29 percent, which is about 15.4 percent of the entire spending budget.

Moreover, mandatory spending makes up almost two-thirds of the annual budget, and almost 87 percent is allocated for programs such as Social Security, Medicare, and Unemployment. That makes up about 56.2 percent of the total budget.

This leaves about 28.4 percent for other things such as housing, international affairs, energy, science, transportation, education, veterans’ benefits and agriculture.

Total SpendinFederal SpendingMandatory SpendingDiscretionary Spending

In a statement at the White House on Monday morning, Trump said that his budget would put “America first” by focusing on defense, law enforcement and veterans using money previously spent abroad. In order to raise the defense spending without breaking the budget, he stated he plans to make cuts at the EPA, the State Department and programs such as food stamps.

While some believe this is wasteful and cutting too much on social programs, others believe it is a good way to cut on “useless” expenses.

According to Politifact, the United States already spends more than the next seven countries below it in spending combined. On average, this nation spends $300 billion more than China, the second highest nation in defense spending.

It can sound excessive to some, but not all of that money goes into defending the United States. The country is part of mutual defense treaties in which the it is obligated to defend certain nations should they be attacked. These treaties are NATO, OAS, ANZUS and Bilateral.

Currently, the United States uses its funds to defend 54 different countries and itself. The National Priorities website states that every hour, tax payers in the United States are paying $1.42 million for foreign military assistance, which is $12.44 billion a year. That is two percent of the total budget, but that is not the only money that goes toward foreign defense aid.

Much like mandatory spending, the Department of Defense base budget takes up most of the defense budget, $496 billion, 83 percent. It contributes significantly to the Overseas Contingency Operations, also known as war funds. About 11 percent of the budget in 2015 went toward this operation.

This is a brief look at how the United States’ spending is distributed. If you would like to read more on it, visit websites such as National Priorities, Government Publishing Office, U.S. Government Spending and the Congressional Budget Office. Leave a comment letting us know what your thoughts are on government spending and be sure to answer our Twitter Poll.


More on the Trump Administration:

Title IX: still a priority

Defunding Planned Parenthood

Travel Ban

Trump and College Tuition

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