Why Congress Lacks Easy Control Over Spending

More than half of all federal spending occurs automatically, without any congressional debate or vote. 55.5% of the federal budget, about $2 trillion, is so-called “mandatory” spending – Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other programs. Actual spending levels are determined by the number of people who qualify for benefits, not Congressional action. “Discretionary” spending – programs actually approved by Congress each year, from defense to education to Amtrak – accounts for less than 45 percent of the budget.

Today’s full infographic has more stats. Check it out and add to the discussion below: how do you feel about the hands-off “mandatory” spending mechanism?

mandatory spending congress

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