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Main Parts of the U.S. Budget

Can you name the eight parts of the U.S. budget that account for 78% of all federal spending?
For FY 2018. Source
Last updated: August 05, 2017
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%
$
Segment
20.1
859 bil
Social Security
15.3
653 bil
Defense
13.8
588 bil
Medicare
9.4
404 bil
Medicaid
7.4
315 bil
Interest on the Debt
4.8
205 bil
Disability + SSI
4.2
178 bil
Veterans Affairs
3.3
140 bil
Federal Employee Pension
+2
level ∞
Aug 5, 2017
The numbers should be considered estimates. Its hard to find a good source for the data. The total amount of spending is about $4.3 trillion, after I add back in some "negative" spending that somehow makes its way into the budget.
+2
level ∞
Aug 5, 2017
Here are the next biggest expenses:
  • 2.5% - Education
  • 2.3% - Food Stamps + Other Food Assistance
  • 2.1% - Transportation
  • 1.9% - Tax Credits in Excess of Tax Liability
  • 1.1% - Housing
  • 0.9% - Non-Military Foreign Aid
  • 0.9% - Health Insurance Premium Subsidies
  • 0.9% - Unemployment
+6
level 66
Aug 6, 2017
Very interesting. I tried "Health" instead of Medicare/Medicaid, school boy British error. I think I also tried most of those that just missed out on the list. Quite scary that the US spends three times as much on repaying the interest on its debts than on educating its children.
+1
level 60
Aug 6, 2017
Same here. Got only for while trying most of the second list. "Health" should be accepted. Further, it is strange that "Disability + SSI" is not already included in "Social Security". And finally, "Veterans Affairs" maybe either part of "Defense", "Social Security", or "Retirement" (as is accepted by the quiz).
+2
level ∞
Aug 6, 2017
Sorry, I think its an important distinction to know the difference between Medicare and Medicaid, and between Social Security and Disability.
+1
level 43
Nov 27, 2017
This is about the specifics of the budget. Agree with QM
+1
level 60
Aug 6, 2017
Well, if you count most of the debt as indirect war costs (see Watson institute), than this relation appears to be less irritating.
+6
level ∞
Aug 6, 2017
"Quite scary that the US spends three times as much on repaying the interest on its debts than on educating its children."

Would be scary if true. Most education spending is done at the state and local level. Total government spending on education is over $1 trillion.

+3
level 76
Aug 7, 2017
I only got defense... I tried all the ones that are covered in budgets in my country, but either they were too vague or just obviously not important enough or wrong terminology. (No idea about the difference between Medicare and Medicaid) Tried health, welfare, housing, transport, education, foreign aid, environment, law enforcement and even vague things like infrastructure. Didn't even think about veterans or that disability would be separate to health stuff! The US is so confusing.
+1
level 74
Aug 7, 2017
Simplified, Medicare = socialized medicine for the elderly/retired, whereas Medicaid is socialized medicine for the poor.
+1
level 69
Aug 7, 2017
I got social security, medicare and defense. I guessed many others much like you did and then started thinking of the departments they would fall under. I guessed federal employees but didn't include the word pension and thought the veterans would be included in defense. I should have remembered interest on the debt since it is becoming a real problem fast.
+1
level 49
Nov 27, 2017
Me too. And we aren't the only ones either, just look at the answer stats: 99% of people got Defense but only 41% got the next highest one. The answers were a lot more specific than I expected.
+1
level 65
Aug 23, 2017
Military Industrial Welfare Complex
+1
level 66
Sep 27, 2017
I'm not American, so had a difficult time with this one. Kept trying Health Care, but didn't think of calling it a different name. I as shocked, absolutely shocked that Foreign Aid and Education are not among the big group.
+3
level 73
Nov 25, 2017
The US spends way more on foreign aid than any other country but no country spends (much) more than 1% of its GDP on this. As for education like QM points out above the American education system is largely a local affair. States, municipalities, and families of students paying tuition directly together contribute way more than the federal government does.
+1
level 70
Aug 2, 2018
The US spends more in absolute dollar terms than every country but China (which recently passed us), but we're severe laggards in both dollars per capita and in % of GDP - especially if you split EU spending up among member nations based on the % of EU funding provided by each country.
+1
level 73
Nov 25, 2017
Closest I came to a right answer without getting it was when I tried some variations of "payroll," "employee payroll," "federal employee payroll"... didn't know I had to exclude the ones who weren't yet retired.
+6
level 46
Nov 25, 2017
Does defense include attack? :)
+1
level 67
Nov 25, 2017
Presumably, yeah. I got it just by typing "military."
+1
level 57
Aug 5, 2018
Same here. The War Department got renamed "Defense" after it became clear the U.S. would always be going overseas and fighting wars.
+1
level 67
Nov 27, 2017
I've always wondered why it's called the Department of Defense instead of the Department of Offense
+1
level 73
Dec 2, 2017
+1
level 73
Dec 2, 2017
The name was changed in 1949. After World War 2 I think it fell out of fashion to be seen as going to war for reasons other than self-defense.
+1
level 57
Aug 5, 2018
But it was becoming an American fashion.
+2
level 60
Nov 25, 2017
For comparison, here are the segments the budget of Estonia pays for from largest to smallest: social protection; general public services; healthcare; economy; education; national defence; public order and security; leisure, culture and religion; environmental protection.
+4
level 73
Nov 25, 2017
So more or less the same as the USA... except that, like most other countries in Europe, they can afford to spend nothing on defense and simply rely on the USA to defend them, and thanks in part to that they don't have anywhere near as much debt to pay interest on, either.
+4
level 58
Nov 25, 2017
An insurance company with an Army.
+1
level 67
Nov 25, 2017
5/8 for me. I forgot to separate out Medicaid and Disability+SSI from Medicare, and didn't think about federal employee pensions at all (which is weird because in my home state of Illinois, state worker pensions are infamously one of our biggest economic problems). I would totally have nailed most of the next eight biggest expenses had they been included, since I ended up guessing a lot of those and then giving up when I ran out of ideas.
+2
level 60
Nov 25, 2017
Trump's golf adventures?
+1
level 51
Nov 25, 2017
and Bush golf adventures and Obama golf adventures
+1
level 66
Nov 25, 2017
Fact: If America cut half its annual military budget, everyone in the world would have clean drinking water.
+1
level 58
Nov 29, 2017
do you mean if America cut its military budget in half and then just gave that money away?
+1
level ∞
Aug 14, 2018
Peru has a per-capita income of over $10,000 and still doesn't have clean drinking water - to cite one example. It's clear that clean drinking water is not just about having adequate money.
+1
level 63
Nov 25, 2017
This quiz is depressing.
+1
level 64
Nov 25, 2017
I tried deficit instead of debt interest. Thought it should work, but didn’t
+1
level 27
Nov 25, 2017
I tried disabilities not disability
+1
level 32
Nov 27, 2017
I thought defence would be the only answer
+1
level 46
Nov 27, 2017
6/10 and got 5 points!
+1
level 65
Jul 25, 2018
Similar quiz for UK government spending here
+1
level 57
Aug 5, 2018
This is rather misleading as many of these are funds that are being paid back from collective pools the recipients pay into, just like private insurances and retirement accounts. They run on their own money so to speak. The military comes from taxes - give a number and we'll make everyone pay it.
+1
level ∞
Aug 14, 2018
We are drawing much more from social security and medicare than we put in. And we clearly didn't save from previous years given our gigantic debt. U.S. government spending is, more than ever, distributions to the elderly and less than ever investments in the future.
+1
level 33
Oct 6, 2018
Extremely difficult for non-Americans. Healthcare doesn't work, welfare doesn't work, education doesn't even make the list...
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