The Four Biggest Agencies in the Federal Budget

August 31, 2011

UPDATE: I updated the charts to give them the same scale as per BG’s request.

I mentioned the other day that I’m looking at the Federal Budget. I have entered the budget numbers for every agency from 1970 through 2011 (2010 and 2011 numbers are still considered estimates). I plan to go back and enter the information for the 1962 through 1969. The charts below show the four biggest pieces of the federal budget based on percentage of the budget. As you can see, some of them have grown substantially over the years. Health and Human Services has grown from 10% of the budget to consume nearly 25% of the budget.

People gripe about the military spending but it’s percentage of the budget has dropped from nearly 41% to just under 19% over the years.

More stuff to come…

12 responses to The Four Biggest Agencies in the Federal Budget

  1. So is health and human services Medicare, Medicaid, and welfare benefits?

  2. You don’t take into account that Social Security and Medicare has money coming in for their programs. Also, are the wars in Iraq and Afganistan still “off budget”?

    • John,

      I was strictly looking at the Agency’s portion of the budget and not taking into account revenue. I’ll look at those numbers later.

  3. I would agree with John, the defense numbers do not include the full cost of the wars. Since they were (mostly) put in emergency appropriations, their payback is only being addressed in future budgets. On the same note of the difference between SS which takes in money, you are leaving out the interest specifically tied to the debt incurred borrowing for the wars (categorized defense specific). Which has been owed but paid off at a negligible rate, those interests are included in the fed govt outlays:

  4. Jesse,

    I’m not leaving out anything. I’m simply showing the biggest agencies in the federal budget.

  5. Why not post charts that are all at the same scale?

    BTW: There are plenty of military families at a huge Army base near me that are on Food stamps and/or other forms of welfare. Also, Veterans healthcare and mental needs are lumped in the “Health and Human Services” catagory — just giving you example of how costs have been shifted from “Defense / Military Spending” and lumped into other buckets.

  6. BG,

    I’ll put the charts on the same scale but they’re pretty close as they are.

    “Also, Veterans healthcare and mental needs are lumped in the “Health and Human Services” category…”

    Are you sure about this?

  7. “Are you sure about this?”

    Well, it depends on where you lumped the Department of Veterans Affairs (the second largest department, after the department of defense).

    From your graph, the VA doesn’t appear to be lumped in the “Defense – Military” bucket. Using, the Defense bucket is $964.8b for 2011 (that website does lump the VA under Defense).

  8. Also, the Department of Health and Human Services had a budget of $78b in 2010 (according to wikipedia), so I agree with Paul #1 — what do you have lumped in the “Health and Human Services” bucket that makes it seem about 10x larger than the department with that name actually is.

    By the way, I appreciate your effort here — it is good for us to try to understand the monstrosity that is the US Federal Budget.

    • BG,

      I got all my numbers from the Historical Tables of the 2011 Federal Budget. I’m not at my computer now so I can’t get the link. Actually, the link is in the post comparing 2008 and 2009.

  9. JP) I looked at your source data (link on the previous article).

    It is pretty hard to tell what is included in each bucket (table 4.1), except for seeing what other categories are broken out.

    But, I can see that Defense-Military does not include ‘other Defense (Civil Programs)’, or Veterans Affairs, or Homeland Security: which is another $234 billion (in 2011) — which I would attribute to our ongoing “Police State / Military” bloat.

    Also, the Health and Human Services graph of yours doesn’t include the VA, or Social Security. I’m guessing it is primarily made up of Unemployment Benefits and Medicare/Medicaid, but not HUD or Food Stamps. I think Food Stamps are lumped under Agriculture — hard to tell.

    BTW: any chance the graphs can be scaled equally by percentage (the right side / Red lines) ?

  10. HUD is it’s own Agency.