Federal expenditures multiplied more than 10-fold after America entered World War I.
Even then, though, the drastically increased spending was still far less when adjusted for inflation than the federal government spends today. The 1917 spending was about $10.73 billion, which would be about $205.3 billion today. But this fiscal year will spend about $4.14 trillion, or about 20 times what we were spending in 1917.
Still, it’s not exactly an apples to apples comparison.Three of the four biggest drivers of modern-day federal spending are Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid — none of which existed back in 1917.
Tremendous Cost of War to the United States: Estimate of the Total Expenditures for Year Ending Next June Is $10,735,807,000 — Last Year’s Outlay Was $1,041,635,116
From Sunday, August 26, 1917