Federal deficit jumps to $743 billion in March
The federal deficit for fiscal 2020 rose to $743.6 billion in March, 7.6 percent higher than at the same point last year, according to Treasury Department data released Friday.
The increase does not reflect the $2.2 trillion coronavirus emergency relief package that President Trump signed into law on March 27.
Treasury still projects the annual deficit will amount to just under $1.1 trillion. The fiscal year ends on Sept. 30.
Washington’s responses to the pandemic, however, are expected to triple or even quadruple the federal deficit as tax revenues plummet, safety net spending increases and emergency measures pump cash into a devastated economy.
Some conservative groups are already calling for Congress to delay action on further federal spending like the kind that’s now under consideration on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers are laying the groundwork for a fourth coronavirus relief bill.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said this week than an upcoming measure was likely to cost upward of $1 trillion.
“Now is the time to assess whether relief is getting to the people who need it and fix what’s broken – not rush through another massive bill that could prove less effective than what those Americans in need deserve,” said Tim Phillips, president of the Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity.
“Lawmakers should instead focus on properly implementing the $2 trillion package they just passed while also considering reforms that, once this public health crisis is over, could help clear the way for businesses and individuals to jump-start the economy,” he added.
Budget hawks have long warned that allowing deficits and debt to increase unchecked could make it harder to respond to an economic crisis, which often requires large levels of deficit spending.