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Commentary By Brian Riedl

2021 Chart Book Examines Spending, Taxes, and Deficits

Economics Tax & Budget

The Manhattan Institute’s Brian Riedl has released the 2021 edition of his book of charts examining the federal budget, spending, taxes, and deficits. The 118-page chart book begins by broadly examining the rising budget deficits and national debt – well beyond the temporary recession deficits – and then gradually dives deeper to show the policies driving the $112 trillion in new deficits projected over the next three decades. Next, it tallies the cost of common spending increase and tax relief proposals, and determines whether those costs can be offset by the proposed tax increases and defense cuts – including a full accounting of the long-term cost of President Biden’s proposals. Finally, the report examines trends in tax revenues and tax progressivity, common budget myths, and offers a full accounting of the fiscal records of Presidents Bush and Obama.

These charts – most of which rely on publicly-available data from the Congressional Budget Office, Office of Management and Budget, Census Bureau, and U.S. Treasury – nevertheless defy conventional wisdom about spending, taxes, and deficits. Examples of charts include:

  • How Did Washington Go From Budget Surpluses to Escalating Deficits? (p.21)
  • Washington Spent $52,000 per Household in 2021 (22)
  • What Happened to the 2011 BCA Spending Caps? (26-27)
  • Rising Social Security & Medicare Shortfalls Drive Nearly Entire 2019-31 Deficit Rise (34-38)
  • What is Driving CBO’s Projected $112 Trillion Deficit over 30 Years? (45-51)
  • Why the Deficit Could Top $3 Trillion Yet Again Within a Decade (59)
  • Each 1% Interest Rate Rise Adds 40% of GDP to 30-Year Debt (62)
  • A Menu of Tax Increase Options With 10-Year and Long-Term Estimates (67-68)
  • President Biden’s Budget Proposals Would Add $8.8 Trillion in New Ten-Year Debt (79)
  • Does the U.S. Have the OECD’s Most Progressive Tax Code? (99)
  • Is it Possible that the 1980s Defense Build Up Paid for Itself? (106)
  • What Really Caused the 1990s Budget Surpluses? (107)
  • The Comprehensive Bush Budget Record (109-110)
  • The Comprehensive Obama Budget Record (111-118)

PDF icon Download the chart book here.


Brian M. Riedl is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. Follow him on Twitter here.