Deficit hits $624 billion, outpacing last year

Deficit hits $624 billion, outpacing last year
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The 2020 federal deficit for the fiscal year spiked to $624 billion through February, surpassing the entire annual deficit of 2016 in just five months.

New data from the Treasury Department showed that the deficit for February alone stood at an astonishing $235 billion, as spending Social Security, defense, social and health programs outweighed the trickle of tax income from payroll taxes and individual taxes.

The deficit was 15 percent higher than it was at the same point last year.

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Part of that increase appeared related to the timing of certain large, federal payments.

“Outlays during the first five months of this year were boosted by shifts in the timing of certain payments that otherwise would have been due on March 1, which fell on a weekend,” an analysis by the Congressional Budget Office noted in a preview of the deficit data.

“Those shifts increased outlays through February by $52 billion; without them, the outlay increase would have been 6 percent and the deficit for the first five months of 2020 would have been $572 billion, roughly $28 billion larger, rather than $80 billion larger, than the amount for the same period last year,” it found in its analysis.

Even with those shifts taken into account, however, the deficit is clearly rising.

Since President TrumpDonald John TrumpDonald Trump and Joe Biden create different narratives for the election The hollowing out of the CDC Poll: Biden widens lead over Trump to 10 points MORE came to office, it has grown markedly due to a combination of tax cuts and increased spending on both defense and domestic priorities. Demographic pressures are also pushing up the deficit, as the baby boomer generation retires from the workforce. 

The deficit is expected to surpass $1 trillion in 2020 for the only time since the four-year stretch following the financial crisis.