- The federal government spent $ 100 billion more in September than it took in with the biggest chunk going to Social Security
- Total federal debt stood at $ 27 trillion
- Federal borrowing increased by $ 4.2 trillion
The coronavirus pandemic pushed the U.S. budget deficit to a record $ 3.1 trillion as of Sept. 30, the Treasury Department reported Friday. The deficit for 2019 was $ 984,388 by comparison.
The previous highest deficit was $ 1.4 trillion in 2009, the height of the Great Recession.
The deficit was swelled by emergency spending to keep the economy from falling into a depression as a result of the pandemic, which shut down the economy. Congress already has passed more than $ 3 trillion in economic stimulus but talks on the next round of help have stalled with Democrats holding out for a $ 2.2 trillion package and Senate Republicans balking at more than $ 500 billion. The White House has offered $ 1.8 trillion.
The Treasury report indicated the federal government took in $ 373 billion in September but spent $ 498 billion, the largest chunk, $ 92 billion, going to Social Security.
For the year, the Treasury took in $ 3.4 trillion — $ 286 billion less than had been projected — but spent $ 6.55 trillion, nearly $ 1.3 trillion going for income security – cash and in-kind benefits to make sure people’s basic needs are met including disability payments and unemployment compensation.
“The increase in the deficit from [fiscal year] 2019 reflects the effect of COVID-19 on the economy and legislation that created or enhanced programs to protect public health and support hard-hit industries, small businesses, and American individuals and families,” Treasury said in an accompanying press release.
Federal borrowing increased by $ 4.2 trillion this year to $ 21 trillion. Total federal debt stood at more than $ 27 trillion.
Economic experts have urged Congress to approve another massive economic stimulus package to keep the coronavirus-induced recession from dragging on, with President Donald Trump egging on the debate by tweeting, “Go big or go home.”
“Stacked up against questions about the debt, meaningful investments to improve people’s lives should win every time,” Angela Hanks, deputy executive director of the left-leaning Groundwork Collaborative, told the Washington Post. “Massive investment right now will help the economy grow overall, and if we pursue austerity people will suffer and we will have a slower, more painful recovery across the board.”
Brian Riedl, a budget analyst at the conservative-leaning Manhattan Institute, told the Post the economic recovery is leveling off, “which means the deficit numbers will continue to be pretty bad.”