AP NEWS

Federal deficit nears $1 trillion -- again

May 3, 2019

The federal government is on pace to run a deficit of $896 billion this year, the Congressional Budget Office said Thursday, projecting what would be the fifth worst tally in history.

It only gets worse. Deficits will continue to deepen in future years, topping $1 trillion in 2022.

Powering the grim news is surging spending for big safety-net programs such as Social Security and Medicare. Indeed, Social Security used to provide a buffer for the federal budget, but will run a deficit this year for the first time in decades.

“How many more dire warnings will it take before our leaders address the nation’s dismal fiscal picture?” said Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

CBO’s numbers are an update to figures released earlier this year though little has changed over that period.

The fundamentals remain the same, analysts said: The 2017 GOP tax cut has sapped money, while spending continues to rise. The government will collect $3.5 trillion this year, but will spend $4.4 trillion.

The last time the deficit picture was this bad was during and after the Wall Street collapse and the ensuing Great Recession, which saw the Obama administration and a Democrat-led Congress funnel taxpayer money toward stimulus programs.

Now, the economy is doing relatively well yet there’s been no real consensus on curbing spending or raising revenue.

The fiscal year runs through Sept. 30.

The picture could sour a little over the next few months if Congress goes on another spending binge.

Already, requests for disaster relief and a new emergency border spending bill are pending.