as two large mandatory programs—Medicaid and Supple- mental Nutrition Assistance—grew from the combined effect of legislative increases (under ARRA) and automatic increases (more low-income families turning to these pro-
before rising back to 0.6 percent in 2009 as a result of increased ARRA appropriations for education and other services. Somewhat unusually, ARRA expanded both man- datory and discretionary spending in one bill.
grams for assistance because of the recession).
Discretionary programs grew between 1960 and 1980 with the enactment of major education and housing pro- grams. Since 1980, growth in discretionary programs has lessened, although spending did increase slightly from 0.5 percent of GDP in 1980 to 0.6 percent in 2003. Over the next five years, discretionary spending declined relative to the economy, falling back to 0.5 percent of GDP in 2008,
Finally, a detailed analysis of trends in children’s expen- ditures from 1960 to 2009, by category and major program, is provided in table 4. It shows, for example, that health spending has grown from 0 to 21 percent of total expendi- tures on children, while refundable tax credits have grown from 0 to 16 percent. On the other hand, the dependent ex- emption has fallen from 69 to 8 percent and income security has fallen from 22 to 12 percent of expenditures on children.
FIGURE 13 Mandatory and Discretionary Spending, 1960–2009
Percentage of GDP
Refundable tax credits
Source: The Urban Institute and The Brookings Institution, 2010. Authors' estimates based on the Budget of the U.S. Government Fiscal Year 2011. Note: Detailed information for how each program is classified (discretionary, mandatory, tax provisions) is provided in the data appendix.