Almost Half of Federal Spending Goes To Entitlement Programs
More than $1 trillion of the $2.2 trillion in federal spending during fiscal year 2004 went to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, according to the Consolidated Federal Funds Report released on Dec. 27, 2005, by the Census Bureau, the AP/Indianapolis Star reports. Overall, federal spending in 2004 increased 5% over spending levels in 2003.
According to Gerard Keffer, chief of the Census Bureau's federal programs branch, the federal spending increase had been running between 6% and 8% in recent years. The new Medicare drug benefit is expected to cost an additional $724 billion over 10 years.
Rudolph Penner, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute and former director of the Congressional Budget Office, said the aging population and increasing cost of health care will lead to higher entitlement spending in the future. Penner said, "I think [entitlement programs] are going to squeeze out all sorts of other spending items," adding, "I think it's absolutely essential and inevitable that we are going to reform those programs" (Ohlemacher, AP/Indianapolis Star, 12/27/05).