Overview

This lesson tackles a variety of topics related to government spending, including the federal budget, mandatory versus discretionary spending, and government debt. Students learn the difference between a surplus and deficit, the basics of federal budgeting, and the method the government uses to borrow money. They consider the complexities of deciding where the government’s money should go and compare those decisions to choices about personal budgeting. Finally, they work with actual federal spending figures from 2011 to see where the government’s money really goes.

Learning Objectives

Students will be able to...

  • Describe what a budget is.
  • Compare the national budgeting process to the personal budgeting process.
  • Explain the difference between a surplus and a deficit.
  • Explain why and how the government borrows money.
  • Analyze federal spending data.
  • Make cuts to a fictional personal budget.
  • Identify reasons for people’s differing views about government spending.

Teacher Files