2015 budget: smaller deficit, ballooning debt

Editor’s Note:  Social Security retirement benefits are a debt owed by the Federal government to retired workers – a detail CBO omits in their newly released budget graphics.  Benefits are paid from incoming payroll tax dollars withheld for that purpose.  Surplus payroll taxes create debt because they’re put into U.S. Treasury securities owned by the Social Security Trust Fund. The money is then spent elsewhere.

“…the $2.7 trillion of Treasury securities held by the Trust Fund came about not because entitlements are out of control and the government has been forced to borrow to meet retiree benefits, but rather because future retirees have paid more taxes than necessary to meet benefit obligations. Workers have essentially been prepaying into the Trust Fund in order to provide for their future benefits.”

[excerpt from The $17 Trillion Delusion:  The Absurdity of Cutting Social Security to Reduce the Federal Debt/Marty Wolfson/Dollars & Sense]

by The U.S. Congressional Budget Office

The Congressional Budget Office has released infographics that show how much the federal government spent and took in during fiscal year 2015, as well as broader trends in the budget over the past few decades.

Overall budget numbers:

CBO Budget Graphic 2015

Per CBO:

“At $439 billion, the 2015 deficit constituted the smallest since 2007, and at 2.5 percent of gross domestic product, it was below the average deficit (relative to the size of the economy) over the past 50 years. However, the large deficits recorded during the most recent recession and subsequent weak recovery substantially increased federal debt—in 2015, debt reached 74 percent of GDP, slightly less than the ratio in 2014 but higher than in any other year since 1950. Such a high level of debt could have serious negative consequences for the nation, including restraining economic growth in the long term, giving policymakers less flexibility to respond to unexpected challenges, and eventually increasing the risk of a financial crisis.”

2015 Budget Including Deficit History

Mandatory Spending Chart

Discretionary Spending Chart

Closer Look at Revenues



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