Federal Budget in the United States

Federal Budget in the United States

Acquaints yourself with the many parts of the budget and the effect it has on the economy of the United States.

The expenditures of the government can be divided into three categories: those that are required, those that are discretionary, and the interest payments on the national debt. There are numerous subcategories of expenditures within each primary category.

In May of 2021, President Joe Biden presented a budget plan for the federal government totaling $6.011 trillion for the fiscal year (FY) 2022. The federal government of the United States anticipates that it will collect $4.174 trillion in income until September 30, 2022, which will result in a deficit of $1.837 trillion on October 1, 2022.

Before Vice President Biden’s budget proposal was made public, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) made a forecast that the deficit in 2021 would be $2.3 trillion. As a consequence of the American Rescue Plan, the original forecast for the deficit in 2021 was later amended to $3 trillion. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that the cumulative deficit for the years 2022–2031 would be $12.1 trillion, which works out to an average of $1.2 trillion per year.

The required spending category of the federal budget for 2022 is allocated a total of $4.018 trillion. It is anticipated that discretionary spending will amount to $1.688 trillion. Interest payments on the national debt are expected to cost $305 billion.

Key Takeaways

  • The budget that President Biden has proposed for the fiscal year 2022 has a total of $6.011 trillion, which is far higher than any other budget in history.
  • Obligatory expenses, such as Social Security, Medicare, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, account for approximately 65 percent of the total budget.
  • It is anticipated that government spending will be $1.873 trillion greater than federal receipts during the fiscal year 2022.
  • The tax money and money from quantitative easing make up the vast majority of these profits.


In the fiscal year 2022, it is anticipated that the federal government will collect a total revenue of $4.274 trillion. The majority of this money comes from taxes that individuals and businesses have to pay, either in the form of income taxes or payroll taxes. The following is a breakdown of each anticipated source of income:

  • Income taxes contribute $2.039 trillion, accounting for roughly 49 percent of total collections.
  • Payroll taxes for Social Security, Medicare, and any other benefits total $1.462 trillion, or 35% of the total.
  • Corporation taxes generate $371 billion, or about 9% of total revenue.
  • Excise taxes, customs, and tariffs contribute $141 billion, or slightly more than 3% of total revenue.
  • The earnings from the Federal Reserve’s assets contribute an additional $102 billion, which is equivalent to a little more than 2 percent. These are the interest payments that the Federal Reserve makes on the debt of the United States Treasury that it bought during quantitative easing.
  • The remaining 1.5% of total revenue comes from various other sources, primarily estate taxes.


In 2022, the federal government anticipates spending 6.011 trillion dollars. Over 65% of that amount goes to pay for benefits that everyone must get, like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

The rest of life can be supported by spending money on purely frivolous things. It will be $1.688 trillion dollars.The Congress of the United States gives this amount of money every year based on the budget proposed by the president.

It is predicted that the interest in the United States’ debt will amount to $305 billion. The interest paid on the almost 30 trillion dollars in federal debt is the area of the federal budget that is experiencing the most rapid expansion. According to the CBO’s projections, the cost of interest paid by the federal government will quadruple by 2031 and then triple by 2051.

To prevent a default on the United States’ debt, the Treasury Department of the United States must pay the interest. Because it has never happened before, the ramifications of the United States defaulting on its debt are unclear.

Until December 2021, when Congress finally passed legislation to boost it by an additional $2.5 trillion, the maximum amount that the United States could owe on its debts was approximately $28.4 trillion. As of the 24th of June 2022, it had reached a little over $30 trillion at that point.

Costs That Cannot Be Avoided

It is anticipated that mandatory spending will amount to $4.018 trillion in FY 2022. In this category, we find entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare, along with programs like unemployment compensation. In addition to that, it encompasses assistance programs like Medicaid.

The most significant expenditure will be for Social Security, which is estimated to cost $1.196 trillion. It is followed by Medicare, which has a total budget of $766 billion, and Medicaid, which has a total budget of $571 billion.

The cost of Social Security is typically paid through taxes levied on wages and interest earned on assets. Up until 2010, the Social Security Trust Fund received more money than it disbursed due to the surplus of contributions. For the first time since 1982, the amount of money paid out in Social Security benefits in 2021 was more than the amount of money earned from investments.

According to projections made by the Board of Trustees of Social Security, the Trust Fund for Social Security will run dry by the year 2033. Only 76% of the payments promised to seniors will be covered by the money Social Security receives from payroll taxes and interest.

The amount of money that is being withheld from people’s paychecks to pay for Medicare doesn’t cover all of the costs associated with the program. It is required that a portion of the cost be paid for with tax money by Congress. The general fund, commonly referred to as “America’s Checkbook,” is responsible for providing funding for Medicaid in its entirety. This account is used to pay for both the government’s day-to-day operations and its long-term projects.

Unnecessary Expenditures 

The budget for items that are discretionary in 2022 is set at $1.688 trillion. A significant portion of it is allocated to various defense-related departments and agencies, such as the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Homeland Security, and others. The remainder is required to cover the costs of all other domestic initiatives. The Department of Education, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development are the three largest of these programs.

Throughout its history, the Overseas Contingency Operations fund has been used to pay for wars as well as ongoing military operations. The fund will not receive any fund allocation for the year 2022 because its operations will be covered by the service budget.A rising percentage of the budget for discretionary spending is being set aside for disaster relief. This includes relief for natural disasters such as hurricanes and wildfires.

Funding for the Armed Forces

The budget allocates funds for military spending under the category of discretionary spending. The largest cost for the armed forces is the base budget of the Department of Defense, which is expected to be $715 billion.

Since 2001, the request for funding for Overseas Contingency Operations has included a distinct listing in its budget requests for costs associated with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This will be the first year that these expenditures are factored into the request for the base budget, which will be for the fiscal year 2022.

A portion of the budget allocated to the military is allocated to the Departments of Veterans Affairs, Homeland Security, and State. The total amount that all of these military expenditures amount to is 943.9 billion dollars.

The budget gap

It is predicted that we will have a fiscal deficit of $1.83 billion. This amount is the difference between total revenues of $4.174 trillion and total expenditures of $6.011 trillion. This deficit adds to the nation’s already substantial debt load.

Because of the budgets that each administration prepares, each president and their administration get credit or blame for any increase in the national debt that occurs during their term in office. The responsibility of approving the budgets has been given to Congress. The responsibility for generating the deficit and the national debt does not fall solely on the president’s shoulders. This is also the case with other elected politicians.

The role that the deficit plays in the development of the national debt

Every year, the debt owed by the United States increases due to the deficit. To make up for the budget shortfall, the government would sell assets such as Treasury notes to various investors in order to collect the required revenue. The governments of Japan and China “own” huge quantities of U.S. debt, and they are two of the largest holders of such debt.

The possibility of a budget deficit can dampen expectations of future economic expansion. It has an effect on rising interest rates because investors expect a higher return on their investments. One reason why investors might not want to buy Treasury notes in the future is that it is possible that the United States government won’t be able to pay its debts.

The Procedures for the Budget

1974 was the year that Congress first established the budget process.

The budget is prepared by the Executive Office of Management and Budget, and the following is an example of what the timeframe for the budget process should look like for any given year:

On or before:  Action required to be completed 
First Monday in Feb. President submits his budget.
Feb. 15 CBO submits a report to Budget Committees.
Six weeks after President’s budget submission House and Senate Committees submit reports to Budget Committees
April 1 Senate Budget Committee reports concurrent resolution on the budget.
April 15 Congress completes a concurrent resolution on the budget.
May 15 House may consider annual appropriations bills.
June 10 House Appropriations Committee reports the last annual appropriation bill.
June 15 Congress completes budget reconciliation.
June 30 House completes action on annual appropriation bills.
July 15 President submits a mid-session review of the budget to Congress.
October 1 Fiscal year starts

Data analyzed by Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget shows that in the 22 years ending 2020, Congress met its budget deadlines only thrice – with 2000, 2001, and 2004 budgets.

Most of the time, the process and the deadlines it sets aren’t followed because of political disagreements and inefficiency in the government.

It is possible for Congress to miss its deadline for approving the budget or fail to reach an agreement on a temporary funding package, which might result in the shutdown of the federal government.

Three shutdowns of the federal government have occurred in recent years: in 2013, in January 2018, and in December 2018. The government shutdown that began on the 21st of December and lasted until the 25th of January was the longest one to date; it lasted over five weeks. 18. Congress usually passes continuing resolutions and other measures to keep the government from shutting down.

Questions That Are Typically Asked (FAQs)

What are the primary objectives of the budgeting process for the federal government?

The priorities for government spending are established in the federal budget, as are the sources of revenue that will be used to pay for those expenditure priorities. It is an essential instrument for carrying out the goals of any particular administration. The process of creating the budget is structured so that it makes it easier for the White House and Congress to work together to determine these goals. However, it frequently becomes a source of partisan deadlock in discussions.

How is a budget deficit covered by the United States federal government?

The national debt is serviced by the United States government through the sale of Treasury notes, bills, and bonds to a wide range of creditors, including private individuals, state and local governments, corporations, and governments of other countries. This contributes to a growth in the national debt that the federal government will have to repay at some point in the future.

When was the last time the federal government’s budget was considered to be balanced?

The federal budget was last considered to be in a balanced state in the year 2001, when there was actually a surplus.

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