A recent article in the Huffington Post points out that our country is officially on spending autopilot.
What do I mean when I say the budget is “on autopilot”? Right now, vast swaths of government spending are classified as “mandatory.” That means certain programs are funded automatically. In other words, they are funded outside of the yearly congressional budget and appropriations process.
Most Americans don’t realize it, but more than half of federal spending falls into the mandatory spending category: think Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. (To be exact, 56 percent of all federal spending was spent on mandatory spending during the government’s last fiscal year.) Meanwhile, as of last year, just over a third (37 percent) of the federal budget is categorized as “discretionary” spending. This is the part of the budget over which Congress has decision-making power through the yearly budget and appropriations process.
What is it going to take for Washington to take a closer look at what they consider mandatory?