Chart of the Day: Entitlement Spending Will Surpass Revenue in 2024

What does it mean that Washington is consumed in a debate about the deficit while a linchpin of that debate, House Budget Chair Paul Ryan, doesn't expect entitlement reform in the near future? It means the deficit debate isn't really about the deficit.

Entitlements and interest payments will equal total government revenue in a little more than 10 years. Meanwhile, cuts to non-security discretionary spending are occurring in a part of the budget with practically zero projected growth as a share of GDP.


How silly are dramatic cuts to this static sliver of the budget? Imagine a dentist telling you to take better care of your teeth. So you buy a toothbrush and you brush one tooth really really really hard for six months but leave the others untouched. By the time you return to the dentist, your teeth are all rotting except for one tooth that is so overbrushed, you've worn out the enamel.

That's what we risk accomplishing with Republicans' demand for $100 billion in annualized cuts -- over-brushing non-security discretionary spending while underbrushing everything else, at the risk of destroying the hygiene of the entire budget.

Presented by

Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

The Horrors of Rat Hole Mining

"The river was our source of water. Now, the people won't touch it. They are repulsed by it."

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

The Horrors of Rat Hole Mining

"The river was our source of water. Now, the people won't touch it."

Video

What's Your Favorite Slang Word?

From "swag" to "on fleek," tweens choose.

Video

Cryotherapy's Dubious Appeal

James Hamblin tries a questionable medical treatment.

Video

Confessions of Moms Around the World

In Europe, mothers get maternity leave, discounted daycare, and flexible working hours.

Video

How Do Trees Know When It's Spring?

The science behind beautiful seasonal blooming

More in Business

Just In