By Chris Wilson
The budget proposal that President Barack Obama unveiled Wednesday includes a highly controversial measure that would curtail increases in many Social Security and Medicare payments over time. While the document is merely a "symbolic, nonbinding spending blueprint," as Yahoo News’ Olivier Knox wrote yesterday, it quickly exposed fracture lines among Democrats over the future of the entitlement programs.
Ballooning entitlement payments are the most visible aspect of a pressing budgetary concern: Every year, the government has less immediate control over how much money it spends. Of the $3.77 trillion in Obama’s fiscal year 2014 budget, $2.31 trillion of it is “mandatory” spending required by law. Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid make up the bulk of that spending, but there are all sorts of other things in there, as well: disaster relief funds, highway aid, nutritional programs and so forth. Only $1.2 trillion goes to “discretionary” spending, which consists of most agency funding. Half of that is related to defense.
The following infographic arranges Obama’s budget in three rings. The innermost ring shows the entire budget divided by how much is mandatory versus discretionary, plus a third category for interest payments on the national debt. As you move outward, you see those categories subdivided by agency and then by program. Mouse over a slice to see the exact value.
Because this is highly granular data that the White House provides as supplementary material to its budget, the totals in the graphic will be a bit higher than in the summary figures in most news reports. This is often because some agencies produce small amounts of revenue to offset costs, such as leasing federal land. Those negative values are difficult to represent in physical space on the screen.
Source: Public Budget Database (FY 2014 Budget Authority)