Budget Requests vs. Reality

The Editors | April 1, 3:35 pm

Next week, President Barack Obama will submit his budget request to Congress for the 2014 fiscal year. The president's request is historically not very good at predicting appropriations, with Congress typically spending more than the president asked for.

This gap reached it's peak in fiscal year 2009, when new budget authority was roughly a trillion dollars more than George W. Bush had requested in February 2008 before the extent of the financial crisis was clear. In fiscal 2011, with House Republicans exercising new fiscal restraint, actual budget authority came in below the president's request for the first time in 15 years.

The out-year projections included in the president's budget each year do an even worse job of predicting future spending, consistently underestimating both future requests and actual budget authority.

About the Data

Data for this chart comes from the historical budget tables, produced by the Office of Management and Budget. Figures include both annual discretionary appropriations and mandatory entitlements.