2017 Federal Budget Compared to Trump's Spending

The Bottom Line: A $666 Billion Deficit

The fiscal year 2017 federal budget outlined U.S. government revenue and spending from Oct. 1, 2016, through Sept. 30, 2017. The budget process began while President Barack Obama was in office. The budget was amended by President Donald Trump in his inaugural year. Congress enacted the appropriation bills to guide spending.

In 2017, there was a $666 billion budget deficit—$80 billion more than what was recorded in 2016.

Revenue

Total receipts were up 1% in 2017. Revenue was $3.3 trillion. Income taxes contributed $1.6 trillion and corporate taxes added $297 billion. The remaining revenue came from excise taxes, estate taxes, interest on Federal Reserve deposits, and other miscellaneous sources. 

Tax Freedom Day occurred on April 23 in 2017, meaning Americans as a whole spent nearly the first four months of the year working just to pay federal, state and local taxes.

Spending

FY 2017 spending was $3.982 trillion. Federal government spending has three components: discretionary, mandatory and interest on the debt. 

Discretionary

Congress appropriates funds each year for agencies covered by the discretionary budget. For FY 2017, Congress appropriated $1.1 trillion, the limit set by sequestration (which is a method used by Congress to trim the budget). The Trump administration spent $1.08 trillion. It shifted spending from Education, Energy, and Housing to Defense, Health and Human Services, and the State Department.

Congress also appropriated $133.2 billion in Emergency Funding, which is not subject to sequestration. Most of that went to Overseas Contingency Operations, which paid for military operations in the Middle East. It included $15 billion in emergency funds for Hurricane Harvey and  $19.5 billion for Hurricane Irma. Congress added those funds in October 2017.

The chart below compares Obama's budget to Trump's amended version. It also shows the appropriations Congress enacted on May 1, 2017, compared to actual department spending.

FY 2017 Budget (in billions)
Department Obama Budget Trump Budget Enacted Spent
Defense Dept. $523.9 $546.6 $516.1 $523.2
Education $69.4 $63.6 $68.0 $66.9
Energy $30.2 $27.7 $37.8 $30.2
NNSA $12.9 $12.5 $12.9 $12.8
Health $77.9 $72.4 $73.5 $87.1
Homeland $40.6 $44.1 $42.4 $42.4
HUD $38.0 $33.6 $38.8 $34.0
NASA $18.3 $19.2 $19.7 $19.7
State $37.8 $35.4 $36.6 $38.7
VA $75.1 $74.5 $75.1 $74.4
All Other Departments $135.9 $131.9 $128.9 $169.3
Subtotal $1,065.2 $1,080.5 $1,070.0 $1,085.9
Emergency Funding $84.2 $101.8 $101.8 $133.2
Total Discretionary $1,149.4 $1,182.3 $1,171.8 $1,219.1

President Obama submitted the FY 2017 request to Congress on Feb. 9, 2016. That initiated the budget process. Congress can use the president's budget as a guide for its appropriations. This becomes the annual discretionary spending bill. Congress would have submitted the bill to the President for signature by Sept. 30, 2016, if it had followed this process.

But since it was an election year, Congress passed a bill called a "continuing resolution," which continued funding for federal departments at then-current levels. Otherwise, the government would have shut down like it did in 2013

President Trump submitted a budget amendment on March 16, 2017. It asked Congress to appropriate an additional $30 billion for the Department of Defense and enact non-defense discretionary reductions of $18 billion. 

On April 30, 2017, Congressional leaders agreed on a budget. The Senate and House approved the spending bill in May 2017. It appropriated $1.1 trillion in discretionary spending. Congress added $101.8 billion in emergency funding. The Republican-led Congress spent more than Democrat Obama.

Mandatory

The government spent $2.5 trillion on mandated benefits. This portion of the budget is an estimate, not an appropriation, and Congress can't change it as part of the normal budget process. Congress mandated these benefit payments when it passed the laws that created the programs. The breakdown of this mandatory spending for FY 2017 was as follows:

  • Social Security: $939 billion. Payroll taxes fund 100% of the cost.
  • Medicare: $591 billion. Payroll taxes and premiums fund 57% of the cost.
  • Medicaid: $375 billion. Paid out of the general fund.
  • All other mandated benefits: $614 billion. This includes food stamps and Supplemental Security Income. All programs are paid out of the general fund except for Unemployment Compensation, which is partially funded by payroll taxes. The Affordable Care Act and the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) are self-funded.

Interest on the Debt

Interest payments on the national debt are not officially part of the mandatory budget, but the payments must be made. In FY 2017, these payments were $263 billion. That will increase in future years as interest rates rise. 

Deficit

The FY 2017 deficit was $666 billion, $100 billion higher than budgeted because revenue came in less than expected. As a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP), the deficit for 2017 was 3.5%; the 50-year average to that point was 2.9%. Spending, which was $3.9 trillion, was slightly less than budgeted but not enough to help the deficit. 2017 saw the fifth-highest U.S. deficit by year to date and it has been surpassed every year since. It made Trump creator of the third-highest deficit by a president, following Obama and Bush. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the deficit would reach $1.3 trillion or $1.4 trillion (depending on the timing of some federal payments) by 2029.

Simplified Spending, Revenue, and Deficit for FY 2017 Federal Budget (in billions)
Budget item Amount
Revenues $3,316
Mandatory spending -$2,519
Discretionary spending -$1,200
Interest on the debt -$263
 
Total -$666

Compare FY 2017 to Other U.S. Federal Budgets

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Article Sources

  1. Congressional Budget Office. "Monthly Budget Review: Summary for Fiscal Year 2017." Accessed Jan. 15, 2020.

  2. Congressional Budget Office. "The Federal Budget in 2017: An Infographic." Accessed Jan. 15, 2020.

  3. United States Government Publishing Office. "Summary Tables," Page 8. Accessed Jan. 15, 2020.

  4. USA.gov. "Budget of the U.S. Government." Accessed Jan. 15, 2020.

  5. Obama White House Archives. "The Budget Message of the President," Page 5. Accessed Jan. 15, 2020.

  6. Whitehouse.gov. "Letter From the President." Accessed Jan. 15, 2020.

  7. Congress.gov. "Appropriations for Fiscal Year 2017." Accessed Jan. 15, 2020.

  8. Congressional Budget Office. "Updated Budget Projections: 2019 to 2029." Accessed Jan. 15, 2020.