Notes and Sources

Each year the President of the United States creates a budget request for the next fiscal year, with the help of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), ( and submits it to Congress. The budget has several categories of spending that are referred to as functions (and within those, subfunctions). Functions, such as “National Defense” or “Energy” or “Veterans Benefits and Services” cut across agency lines. Aspects of “National Defense” for example, can be found both in the Department of Defense as well as in the Department of Energy.

OMB makes estimates for each function for both discretionary and mandatory spending. Discretionary spending requires an authorization bill which is approved by Congress. Mandatory spending is based on existing law. Mandatory spending programs are often referred to as “entitlement” programs because citizens are “entitled” to the benefits if they meet the eligibility requirements dictated by law. Social Security and Medicare are two such programs.

Analysis of the budget is based on the budget authority for fiscal years 2013-2017.

Unless otherwise indicated, all figures are in constant 2013 dollars using OMB’s GDP deflators from Historical Table 10.1.

The spending categories in pie charts and other visualizations are defined as follows:

Education: Elementary, secondary, higher and vocational education. This includes subfunctions 501, 502, 503.

Energy & Environment: Natural resources and environment, conservation, and supply and use of energy. This includes subfunctions 271, 272, 274, 276, 301, 302, 303, 304, 306.

Food & Agriculture: Agriculture as well as nutritional assistance programs. This includes subfunctions 351, 352, 605.

Government: Commerce, law enforcement, overhead costs of federal government, postal service, and undistributed offsetting receipts. This includes subfunctions 372, 373, 376, 751, 752, 753, 754, 801, 802, 803, 804, 805, 806, 808, 809, 922, 929, 951, 952, 953, 954, 959.

Housing & Community: Housing assistance and credit, community development, disaster assistance, and services supporting social needs. This includes subfunctions 371, 451, 452, 453, 506, 604, 925.

Interest on Debt: Annual interest paid on the national debt net of interest income received by assets the federal government owns. This includes subfunctions 901, 902, 903, 908, 909.

International Affairs: Diplomatic, development, and humanitarian activities abroad. This includes subfunctions 151, 153, 154, 155.
Medicare & Health: Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP occupational and consumer health & safety. This includes subfunctions 551, 552, 554, 571, 921, 926.

Military: National defense and security, nuclear weapons activities, war costs, and international security assistance. This includes subfunctions 051, 053, 054, 152.

Science: General science research and space flight research and activities. This includes subfunctions 251, 252.

Social Security, Unemployment & Labor: Unemployment, Social Security, federal employee retirement and disability, and job training. This includes subfunctions 504, 505, 601, 602, 603, 609, 651, 923.

Transportation: Development and support of air, water, ground, and other transportation. This includes subfunctions 401, 402, 403, 407.

Veterans’ Benefits: Health care, housing, education and income security for veterans. This includes subfunctions 701, 702, 703, 704, 705.

Additional Sources:


Interactive: Where the Money Comes From

Revenues figures are from the White House Office of Management and Budget Public Database revenues spreadsheet.

Economic assumptions numbers from Analytical Perspectives, Budget of the United States Government, Fiscal Year 2013, Table 2-3, Comparison of Economic Assumptions in the 2012 and 2013 Budgets.


Figures for surpluses and deficits from Historical Table 1.1, Budget of the U.S. Government, Fiscal Year 2013.

Figures for surpluses and deficits as percent of GDP from Historical Table 1.2, Budget of the U.S. Government, Fiscal Year 2013.

Figures for discretionary spending as percent of GDP from Budget Overview, Budget of the U.S. Government, Fiscal Year 2013.


Federal Spending in Your State:

Data on federal spending for grants to the 50 states are provided by OMB in Analytical Perspectives, Chapter 18- Aid to State and Local Governments.


Funding Education:

Public opinion on increasing education funding: Pew Research Center, “Rethinking Budget Cutting: Fewer Want Spending to Grow, but Most Cuts Remain Unpopular,” 10 Feb. 2011. 27 Feb. 2012 <>

Community College to Career Fund: U.S. Department of Education, “2013 Budget Continues Investments to Strengthen Workforce and Rebuild American Economy,” 13 Feb. 2012. 13 Feb. 2012 <>

Funding for universities that control costs: U.S. Department of Education, “2013 Budget Continues Investments to Strengthen Workforce and Rebuild American Economy,” 13 Feb. 2012. 13 Feb. 2012 <>

Pell Grant aid: U.S. Department of Education, “Fiscal Year 2013 Budget, Summary and Background Information,” February 2012, 47. 27 Feb. 2012 <>


Health Spending in the President's Budget:

Medicare costs rise more slowly than costs of private health care: Kaiser Family Foundation “U.S. Healthcare Costs.” 1 December 2011 <>

Rising health care costs in other nations: Congressional Budget Office, “Technological Change and the Growth of Healthcare Spending.” 1 December 2011 <>

U.S. spends more on health care than peer nations: Kaiser Family Foundation, “Healthcare Spending in the United States and Selected OECD Countries,” April 2011. 10 Feb. 2012 <>

Bundled payments: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “Affordable Care Act initiative to lower costs, help doctors and hospitals coordinate care,” 23 Aug. 2011. 7 Feb. 2012 <>

Number of uninsured people in the U.S.: U.S. Census Bureau, 2010 American Community Survey 3-Year estimates, Table B18135: “Age By Disability Status By Health Insurance Coverage.”

Costs to insure the uninsured: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, 2010 Actuarial Report on the Financial Outlook for Medicaid, Table 2: “2009 Estimated Enrollment, Expenditures, and Estimated per Enrollee Expenditures, by Enrollment Group,” 13. <>


Military Spending in Fiscal 2013 and Beyond:

Americans are split on whether to reduce military spending: Pew Research Center, “Public Priorities: Deficit Rising, Terrorism Slipping,” 23 Jan. 2012. 13 March 2012 <>

President's budget would redistribute cuts between military and non-military spending: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “President’s Budget Would Eliminate Separate Funding Caps for Defense and Nondefense Discretionary Programs,” 17 Feb. 2012. 13 March 2012 <>

Reductions in armed forces and weapons programs, and base closures: Department of Defense, “Summary of the DoD Fiscal 2013 Budget Proposal,” 13 Feb. 2012 <>

Rising costs of health insurance for service members: Department of Defense, “Remarks by Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates,” 8 May 2010 <>

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