Research Report How Much Federal Spending Is Uncontrollable?
Rudolph G. Penner, Julianna Koch
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Discussions of the federal budget often refer to mandatory spending on Social Security, Medicare, and similar programs as "uncontrollable." In contrast with discretionary programs that Congress usually funds with annual appropriations, entitlement spending is determined by permanent laws specifying who qualifies for what benefits. This article examines changes in the percentage distribution of federal outlays since 1962. It highlights the rapid growth in mandatory spending driven by increased spending for health and retirement programs and the contrasting decline in defense spending as a share of total spending.
Research Areas Economic mobility and inequality Aging and retirement Taxes and budgets
Tags Social Security Fiscal policy Medicare and private health insurance Federal budget and economy Retirement policy
Policy Centers Income and Benefits Policy Center