A Look at Government Spending

Each year, the Congressional Budget Office releases its report on the federal budget which also includes historical stats. What I find interesting is that over the past 30 year, non-defense spending by the federal government, as a percent of GDP, hasn’t varied that much.
I don’t mean to say that it hasn’t varied at all—it certainly has. But the stats are much more stable than you would think if you went by political rhetoric.
Since 1976, the amount of federal spending, except for defense, has averaged about one-sixth of GDP. The numbers haven’t strayed too far from the average. About two-thirds of the time, spending has been between 15.9% and 17.1%.
I think it’s worth considering that if we had repealed all the laws regarding our budget process, and instead applied very strict mechanistic rules, the outcome would have been surprisingly similar.
Interestingly, the amount of federal debt held by the public as a percent of GDP has declined slightly over the past two year.
Here’s the data.

Posted by on February 29th, 2008 at 11:52 pm

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