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Contact: Meg Biallas Henry
Phone: 202-657-0664

Interest on National Debt Projected to Outpace Funding for Kids, New Report Shows

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For Immediate Release: September 20, 2016

Contact: Meg Biallas, (202) 657-0664

Washington – A report released today by the nonprofit research organization Urban Institute and nonpartisan children’s advocacy group First Focus unveiled alarming findings that the federal budget will spend more on paying interest towards the national debt than on investing in children.

The report, Kids’ Share 2016: Federal Expenditures on Children through 2015 and Future Projections, offers a hard look at federal money available to kids. It was funded by First Focus and the Annie E. Casey Foundation and written by Urban Institute researchers Julia Isaacs, Sara Edelstein, Heather Hahn, Ellen Steele, and C. Eugene Steuerle.

The annual report, which examines federal spending and tax investments in children and families, was released today at an event hosted by the Urban Institute in Washington, D.C. It paints a clear picture of the limited funding available to kids now–and in the future. While rising health care costs and broader eligibility will boost investments in children’s health, funding is down in areas like education, with a projected 24 percent decrease over the next ten years.

“This report is a clear indicator that kids are not a priority in government spending. It should be a wake-up call to our legislators that kids must be put first if we want to see a brighter future for everyone,” said First Focus President Bruce Lesley. “This is an opportunity for policymakers to be on the right side of history.”

“The new Kids’ Share findings shed valuable light on how the country is investing in its children,“ said Michael Laracy, director, policy reform and advocacy, at the Annie E. Casey Foundation. “The annual publication can help us address the devastating economic instability experienced by millions of families. Discussing the effects of federal spending and tax investments gives us a clearer view on how federal spending has the potential to restore the promise of opportunity for all Americans.”

According to the report, “federal spending, excluding tax subsidies, will increase by nearly $1.5 trillion over the next decade, according to Congressional Budget Office projections of spending under current law.” Projections indicate that rising health care costs and broader eligibility for care will bump up investments in children’s health, but interest payments on the national debt will exceed total federal investments in children by 2019.

Taking inflation into account, the report also projects that by 2026:

  • Kids’ share of budget growth will be just 2 percent
  • Early education and care is projected to decline by 24 percent
  • Discretionary spending on children is projected to decline by 23 percent

“Our federal budget does not add up,” said Julia Isaacs, one of the reports’ co-authors and a senior fellow at the Urban Institute. “If current spending and revenue trends continue, a growing share of the federal budget will be spent on health and retirement programs, and interest payments on the debt, putting the squeeze on children’s programs. We are a rich country, with enough resources to fund important social programs to support children. But to do so, we must make children more of a priority in the federal budget.”

This report comes just weeks before the presidential election, in a time when political tensions are high, and kids are at an even greater risk of getting lost in the rhetoric.

“In this election year, our nation needs to re-evaluate its priorities. It’s up to the American people to make sure they choose leaders who put kids first,” said Lesley.


First Focus is a bipartisan advocacy organization dedicated to making children and families a priority in federal policy and budget decisions. For more information, visit