This year, budgets are tight. States are facing budget shortfalls and the deficit is at a record high. Generations United believes investing in programs for children, youth and families is the long-term answer to our country’s budget problems, but must not be done at the expense of sacrificing critical supports for older adults.
We keep a close eye on the budget process, looking carefully at proposed changes to funding, and how these changes would affect millions of children, families, and older adults across the country.
Pieces of the Federal Budget:
The federal budget outlines the U.S. government’s spending plans each year and how it will pay for that spending. Federal spending falls into two major categories:
Discretionary spending must be authorized by Congress every year to keep the government operating. Total discretionary spending usually makes up about a third of the federal budget, mostly funding for defense. Non-defense domestic discretionary funding makes up about 12 percent of the federal budget ($477 billion). These funds pay for a wide variety of programs and services such as Head Start, K-12 education, Pell grants, job training and housing programs, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), and highway projects.
Entitlement spending is mandated by law and does not need congressional approval each year. Entitlement spending funds programs that provide critical safety net services for children, families, and older adults. Entitlement spending is the fastest-growing part of the budget. Examples of entitlement programs include Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, and Food Stamps.