Just how large has government grown over the past couple decades? To answer that, take a look at the increase in the amount the government spends per household in Heritage’s 2015 Federal Budget in Pictures.
In 1962, the U.S. government spent about $12,000 of today’s dollars per American household; it now spends almost $29,000—more than twice as much for each household. The growth of government is not slowing down, either. By 2023, the spending for each American household is on pace to reach almost $35,000, an increase of 20 percent in just ten years.
A large part of the problem is that the government now spends about two-thirds of its budget on mandatory spending, which consists of dispensing benefits through the major entitlement programs and paying interest on the national debt. Mandatory spending grows on autopilot every year and is not subject to the annual budget process like other parts of the budget are.
Without reform, these programs are poised to account for 85 percent of spending growth over the next 10 years as America’s population grows older and collects more health care and Social Security benefits. This spending growth does not bode well for the nation’s debt; by 2028 the debt held by the public is expected to exceed the size of the U.S. economy.
To reverse the growth of spending, Congress should act fast and reform the entitlement programs while stamping out wasteful and inappropriate spending at the national level. For more information about the nation’s spending and debt—and what the government should do about it—see Heritage’s 2015 Federal Budget in Pictures.