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Federal Spending for Means Tested Programs, 2007 to 2027

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Technical Report

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Congressional Budget Office Washington United States

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In January 2017, the Congressional Budget Office projected that if current laws generally remained unchanged, total mandatory spending excluding offsetting receipts would grow at an average annual rate of 5.5 percent over the coming decade, which is close to the 5.3 percent average annual rate of growth recorded over the past10 years.1 Mandatory spending on means-tested programswhich provide cash payments or other forms of assistance to people with relatively low income or few assets is projected to grow more slowly than spending for nonmeans-tested programs. CBO projects that undercurrent law, outlays for mandatory means-tested programs would grow over the next decade at an average annual rate of 4.3 percent, whereas spending for mandatory nonmeans-tested programs would grow at an average annual rate of 6.0 percent see Table 1.2 Among the mandatory programs, the largest means-tested ones are Medicaid, the earned income and child tax credits which are refundable, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program SNAP, and Supplemental Security Income. The largest nonmeans-tested programs are Social Security, most of Medicare, and civilian and military retirement programs.

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