Treasury Data: Federal Benefits And Entitlements Cost Over $2 Trillion In FY 2013


The federal government paid over $2 trillion in benefits and entitlements to Americans in fiscal year 2013, according to data from the Bureau of the Fiscal Service’s monthly treasury statement. reports the September 2013 statement from the bureau includes all of the data for the previous fiscal year. 

The statement reportedly shows that federal spending for means-tested and non-means tested government programs totaled just over $2 trillion for fiscal year 2013. 

Nearly 70 percent of the benefits paid out went to non-means tested programs like Medicare, Social Security, railroad retirement and unemployment compensation. The combined total for those programs was over $1.2 trillion. The programs that were the largest recipients of the money were Social Security, which totaled over $663 billion; and Medicare, which cost over $589 billion. 

The remaining 30 percent of the money went to means-tested programs like Federal Supplemental Security Income and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which is commonly referred to as food stamps. Such programs cost the federal government over $608 billion in fiscal year 2013. 

The total figure of just over $2 trillion accounts for 58.1 percent of the government’s total spending.

That is likely little surprise to critics of federal programs. The Fiscal Times reported last month that the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, or CBO, warned that such spending was “unsustainable” and would eventually drive the federal debt to historic levels.

“Unless substantial changes are made to the major health care programs and Social Security, spending for those programs will equal a much larger percentage of GDP in the future than it has in the past,” the report concluded.

But the CBO report did indicate that current law has other programs making needed cuts.

“At the same time, under current law, spending for all other federal benefits and services would be on track to make up a smaller percentage of GDP by 2024 than at any point in more than 70 years,” the report read.

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, said the report was proof that federal spending should be cut.

“The status quo isn’t working, and families are paying the price,” he said. “We need to expand opportunity for everyone in this country, and we can start by getting federal spending and debt under control. That’s how we can make the federal government more accountable and more effective.”

Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, the ranking Democrat on the same committee, offered a different solution.

“The fastest and most effective way to reduce our deficit is to put Americans back to work.  We’ve made progress on this critical issue, with 288,000 jobs added to the economy in June and 52 consecutive months of private sector job growth, but we must do more,” he said, before adding, “That is why investing in our national infrastructure, raising the minimum wage, and passing comprehensive immigration reform are so important to creating good-paying jobs for hardworking Americans.”

Sources:, The Fiscal Times

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons


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