December 2018 CBO Monthly Budget Review: Total Receipts Up By 1% And Spending Up 9% In The First Quarter Of Fiscal Year 2019

Total Outlays: Up by 9 Percent in the First Quarter of Fiscal Year 2019

Outlays for the first quarter of fiscal year 2019 were $1,088 billion, $93 billion higher than they were during the same period last year, CBO estimates. If not for the shift of certain payments, that year-to-year increase would be much smaller—$49 billion rather than $93 billion. The discussion below reflects adjustments to exclude the effects of those timing shifts.

The largest increases in outlays were in the following categories:

  • Outlays for the largest mandatory spending programs increased by 3 percent:
    • Social Security benefits rose by $12 billion (or 5 percent), because of increases both in the number of beneficiaries and in the average benefit payment.
    • Medicare and Medicaid outlays increased by $3 billion and by $2 billion, respectively (or by 2 percent each).
  • Outlays for net interest on the public debt increased by $16 billion (or 19 percent), largely because interest rates are substantially higher in 2019 than they were during the same period in 2018 and because the amount of federal debt is larger than it was a year ago.
  • Spending for military programs of the Department of Defense rose by $9 billion (or 6 percent), mostly for operation and maintenance activities.
  • Outlays for the Department of Veterans Affairs (included in the "Other" category below) increased by $5 billion (or 11 percent) because of a rise in the number of disability compensation beneficiaries and an increase in the average benefit payment.

The largest decreases in outlays were in the following categories, included in "Other" below:

  • Outlays recorded for the Department of Homeland Security decreased by $9 billion (or 36 percent), largely because spending for disaster relief was higher than usual at the beginning of fiscal year 2018.
  • The government received $4 billion more in payments this year from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, resulting in lower net outlays. The two entities make quarterly payments to the Treasury each December.
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