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February 15, 2011


Federal Budget Sand Chart 2011

by brainoids

With Monday’s release of the FY12 President’s budget request, I decided to update the interactive sand charts of Federal budget outlays previously posted to IBM’s ManyEyes site.   This time I’ve included not only spending from 1962-present in inflation adjusted 2010 dollars, but also the slightly more meaningful charts of spending as a percent of Gross Domestic Product. (Since the economy has steadily grown, spending more inflation-adjusted dollars isn’t necessarily a “bad thing”).   The percent GDP chart at right is more instructive as it shows the evolution in the nation’s “investment portfolio” over the last fifty years.

That said, the constant dollar spending is useful as well.   Clicking on the live chart at left and drilling into the subcategories, the long term trends in spending for, e.g., defense, health, and energy show important patterns to be aware of.   As well as, of course, net interest on the national debt…

Technical notes: Data for these charts come from outlay tables hist03z1, hist03z2, and deflator/GDP table hist10z1, at OMB’s historical budget data site.   I’ve used the GDP-chained price index for inflation adjustment.   For the President’s Budget Request 12, internal breakouts of DoD spending were not included for FY13-FY16, to complete the charts here, I have estimated by prorating the DoD requested topline for those years based on the FY12 internal distribution.

7 Comments Post a comment
  1. James
    Feb 22 2011

    Why does the display area at the link only show a blank white area, and not the graphics as in your snapshots? Are you writing MS-specific code?

    I use Opera browser running on Linux.

    • Feb 22 2011

      James – the IBM ManyEyes site uses Java and Flash to power their live visualizations (the sand charts use Java, I think). I’ve been told that’s sometimes an issue of Java isn’t enabled in the browser. Their FAQ includes the link below – I hope it helps!
      Why can’t I see any of the visualizations?
      Many Eyes uses Java and Flash technology. You may need to download the latest Java plug-in ( or the latest version of Adobe Flash Player ( to see the visualizations.

  2. James
    Feb 22 2011

    Thanks for the response. It might be because I don’t have Flash installed. That’s the only way I’ve found to escape being subjected to the animated advertisements and other cr*p that seems to be about 99% of Flash content.


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Federal spending sand chart « Dennis' Blog
  2. Fiscal Future Daily: Charts! We’ve Got Charts! « Choosing the Nation's Fiscal Future
  3. Does Washington Listen? « Dennis' Blog

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