FY2012 Spending in Historical Perspective

Feb. 18, 2011

The Obama Administration released its $3.7 trillion budget request for FY2012 on February 14, 2011.

The following bar chart shows spending data for fiscal years 2008, 2010 and 2012. FY2008 was included because it is the last fiscal year before major increases in federal spending that resulted from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), and because it is the baseline year for a number of the deficit reduction plans being considered in Washington. See our website for complete 2007-2013 spending data.

Items of Special Interest: The budget caps “non-security” discretionary spending for five years. Total FY2012 military spending shows a decrease over FY2011. This is due to a 26% decrease in war funding. Yet the Pentagon’s annual budget actually increases by roughly 1.5%. Transportation receives a significant increase to begin repair of our nation’s infrastructure and create jobs.

Highlights of FY2012 Budget Expenditures

Income Security & Labor
Unemployment, social security, federal employee retirement and disability, job training
Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, occupational and consumer health & safety
National defense, nuclear weapons, international security
Net Interest on the Debt
Annual interest owed on national debt
Agriculture and nutritional assistance, food stamps
Veterans Benefits
Health care, housing, education and income benefits for veterans
Air, water and ground transportation
Elementary, secondary, higher and vocational education
Natural resources, conservation, energy supply and use, science
Housing assistance and credit, community development, disaster assistance
International Affairs
Diplomatic, development, and humanitarian activities abroad
Judicial, legislative and
executive branches,
postal service

FY 2012 Budget Authority: $3.7 Trillion


  1. Numbers presented here are in billions of 2012 dollars and include both mandatory and discretionary spending. Mandatory spending is required by law and includes existing programs such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps and interest on the national debt. Discretionary spending must be authorized each year by Congressional vote.
  2. All numbers are Budget Authority which is the allowance or allotment given for spending in a particular category for the year, though the bills (obligations) may arrive in different months throughout that period and beyond.