"Permanent appropriations" and "offsetting collections:" ostensibly puts 86 percent of federal spending on autopilot and not requiring annual approval from Congress, according to Investors Business Daily.
The estimation comes from the Government Accountability Office, which reported $3.2 trillion of the $3.7 trillion 2015 budget did not require authorization, per the report.
Entitlement programs like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and welfare are funded annually without congressional approval because of laws that make them "permanent appropriations." They accounted for $2.6 trillion of federal spending in 2015.
Other vehicles for autopilot federal spending include contract authority, borrowing authority, and "offsetting collections," which are fees, fines, or charges for permits. Congress allows that money to be spent how the agency sees fit, and $421 billion was spent federally that way in 2015.
Autopilot spending is rapidly expanding, too, according to the report. It was just $1.7 trillion in 1994 and $3.2 trillion by 2015, an 87 percent increase, after adjusting for inflation, according to IBD. Over the same time span, entitlements have climbed 81 percent, while "offsetting collections" increased by 126 percent.
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