Per Capita Federal Spending Continues to Grow

Federal spending is not just growing; it is growing faster than the United States population, and has been since the 1940s. By the end of his third year in office, President Truman brought per capita federal spending down to $2,259.79 (adjusted for inflation). For the next 70 years, no other president brought federal spending this low. That was 1948. The federal government’s spending per person has steadily risen.

The runaway increases in per capita spending, combined with a growing population, have fueled the growth of the national debt. And while the debt ceiling is intended to function as a limit to Congress’ spending, it has instead been more like the snooze button on an alarm clock: when the debt ceiling is reached, Congress hits the button—in this analogy, a motion that never fails to pass—to raise the debt limit and thereby restart their countdown.

To get this runaway spending under control, Congress needs to wake up to the reality that spending more than $12,000 per capita annually is why our national debt is more than $60,000 per person and more than $170,000 per taxpayer in the United States.