Posted by: Jeff | November 25, 2009

A Very Large Number: A Primer

Like we said, we threw out a lot of numbers in our podcast on the deficit. So I thought I’d gather the most relevant ones into one easy-to-read post. You can get more details from the Wikipedia page we linked to, which in turn got its numbers from the White House budget.

For your enjoyment, the United States 2010 federal budget. (Below the fold, ’cause there’s a lot.)

Tax Revenue

  • $1.061 trillion – individual income taxes
  • $940 billion – Social Security and other payroll taxes
  • $222 billion – corporate income taxes
  • $158 billion – other taxes (excise, estate, etc)

Total Tax Revenue: $2.381 trillion


Mandatory Spending

  • $695 billion – Social Security
  • $453 billion – Medicare
  • $290 billion – Medicaid
  • $11 billion – potential disaster costs
  • $571 billion – other mandatory programs (still trying to find specifics on this)
  • $164 billion – interest on the national debt

Total Mandatory Spending: $2.184 trillion

Discretionary Spending

  • $663.7 billion – Department of Defense
  • $52.5 billion – Department of Veterans Affairs
  • $51.7 billion – Department of State and other international programs
  • $47.5 billion – Department of Housing and Urban Development
  • $46.7 billion – Department of Education
  • $42.7 billion – Department of Homeland Security
  • $352.8 billion – other agencies (no single one gets over $27 billion)
  • $105 billion – other (your guess is as good as mine)

Total Discretionary Spending: $1.368 trillion

Total Spending: $3.552 trillion

Minus the spending from the revenue and you get:

2010 Budget Deficit: $1.171 trillion

The bulk of the economic stimulus will be paid out over 2010 and 2011, bringing down the level of spending in a whole host of departments. At least some of the Bush tax cuts will be allowed to expire, raising revenue. And as the Iraq War hopefully winds down, defense spending will decrease somewhat. (Though all bets are off on Afghanistan.) As a result, the deficit is projected to drop to around $500 billion in the next two or three years. From there it will slowly increase to something over $600 billion by 2019.


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