Fiscal Matters: An Introduction To Federal Fiscal Law & Principles
Mandatory—or direct—spending accounts for more than half of spending by the U.S. Government. This category includes spending for entitlement programs and certain other payments to people, businesses, nonprofit institutions, and state and local governments. In general, those payments are dictated by statutory criteria and are not normally constrained by the annual appropriation process. In 2009, such mandatory outlays rocketed to $2.1 trillion from $1.6 trillion in 2008. According to the Congressional Budget Office, mandatory spending is projected to continue to surge, ranging between $1.9 trillion and $2.1 trillion through 2013, and then steadily increasing to $3.0 trillion in 2020. With respect to discretionary spending—according to CBO estimates based upon the assumption that such spending will keep pace with inflation—outlays will total approximately $1.4 trillion in 2011.