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In 2020, what portion of all federal government spending was for social programs, such as healthcare, income security, education, housing, and recreation?

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In 2020, 73% of all federal government spending was for social programs, such as healthcare, income security, education, housing, and recreation. This share grew from 21% in 1960 to 62% in 2019 and then spiked to 73% in 2020 due to "Covid relief" spending. Politicians and journalists often understate spending on social programs by excluding all permanently funded "mandatory" programs from their budget breakdowns. This omits the majority of federal spending and major social programs like Food Stamps, Medicare, Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income, and Social Security. Some claim that SS is "not government spending" because it "saves" people's money and returns it to them. However, SS is not a savings plan but a social program that provides benefits to the aged and disabled mainly by taxing people who are currently working. Contrary to a common myth, Social Security was structured that way from the start of the program in 1937.

DocumentationFederal Spending by FunctionMandatory ProgramsSocial Security Myths




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