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Federal Domestic Budget Spending on Children Declines
Detail: According to a report, "Kids' Share 2007: How Children Fare in the Federal Budget" released by the nonpartisan Urban Institute, children in the US will see their shares of federal domestic spending and the gross national product decline by double digits over the next decade. The report tracks federal spending from 1960 to 2006 and uses current policy and some assumptions to project activity through 2017. The report looks at more than 100 major programs that aim to improve children's lives through income security, health care, social services, food and nutritional aid, housing, education, training, and tax credits and exemptions for their families. Children are defined in the study as individuals under age 19 who are not in postsecondary education.

Researchers estimate that as a share of GDP, children's spending will slide from 2.6 percent in 2006 to 2.1 percent in 2017. Children enjoyed 20.1 percent of federal domestic spending in 1960;their share of the increase in spending between 1960 and 2006 was 14.7 percent. Under current law, children's share of new federal spending between 2006 and 2017 will be 5.6 percent -- $36 billion -- while other domestic programs will expand by $609 billion. The children's budget has maintained its share of GDP mainly through the introduction of 13 new programs since 1960, which, in 2006, accounted for 65 percent of the spending on children. Just three programs -- the child tax credit, the earned income tax credit, and Medicaid were responsible for 38 percent of the spending in 2006.

The analysis contrasts how elderly entitlement programs tend automatically to outpace growth in the economy, wages, and medical costs, while individual children's programs tend to slip behind inflation and economic growth. The researchers conclude that despite frequent rhetoric from policymakers on the priority given to children, the federal budget makes fairly clear that children are less of a priority and more of an afterthought in the budget process.

The report, "Kids' Share 2007: How Children Fare in the Federal Budget," is available at
Source: News Release, The Urban Institute
Date: March 26 2007