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Friday, June 12, 2009

U.S. Federal Spending Figures - A Startling History in Graphs

So I decided to dig up U.S. Federal spending totals for every year in American history going back to the 1700s in order to have a point of reference for understanding the level of spending that is taking place in Washington today.

I knew it would be bad. I was floored to learn that it was this bad. Using Microsoft Excel, I graphed out total U.S. Federal spending from 1792 to 2012. Here's what I got:

A brief history of U.S. Federal Spending

If you squint, you can see a tiny little blip of just a couple pixels where the Civil War had brought Federal spending above one billion for the first time in American history for just one year, 1865. A little to the right, you can see a slightly larger blip for World War I.

It is shocking to see that Federal spending levels are so great today that they make the cost of entire wars into little "blips" by comparison. Next comes a noticeable hump for the cost of World War II. Then the scary spending starts happening.

The line shoots straight upward after Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society. It's the Social Security Act of 1965, which created the Medicare and Medicaid programs that sent U.S. Federal spending into the stratosphere.

Not to be outdone, following presidents ramped up spending to an even greater magnitude. Defense spending and entitlement programs swelled out of all sense of reasonable proportion and what came next was unthinkable- corporate welfare- multi-billion dollar handouts to wealthy corporations at the expense of the American taxpayer and consumer.

Some points of comparison:

Fact: The US taxpayer will spend more in 2009 alone than all Federal spending during the entire 19th century.

Fact: If we cut the current yearly Federal budget by all Federal spending during the 19th century, it would barely even make a dent.

Fact: The American taxpayer will spend more in 2009 than all Federal spending during the entire 180 years from 1792 to 1972.

Fact: The Bush Administration alone spent more than all U.S. Federal spending from the beginning of the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 until the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, including both World Wars, several regional wars, and the Great Depression.

Fact: Obama is spending even more than Bush.

Fact: If you are an American citizen, your government has mortgaged your future and indentured you to the service of the staggering debt (plus interest) that the U.S. Treasury owes to bondholders in China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and elsewhere.

Opinion: Americans need real change and they need it right now!


  1. I'd like to see the same graph put together accounting for inflation... wanna bet the trend will be the same?

  2. No kidding! We have certainly inflated the value of the dollar way too much, but not nearly enough to create a graph like that if real spending remained constant.

    And if anyone says "yeah, but the results are exaggerated by inflation" I'd respond that the results are exacerbated by inflation.

    Central bank-driven inflation is not a good thing, and if it makes the graph more severe, the graph is simply indicating two bad things that we have done out of all proportion- overspend and overinflate.

  3. These are some great graphs that you found.

  4. Thanks! And I didn't find 'em- I made 'em!


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