The federal budget deficit is projected to hit a record $3.3 trillion as huge government expenditures to fight the coronavirus and prop up the economy have added more than $2 trillion to the federal ledger, the Congressional Budget Office said Wednesday. The spike in the deficit means that federal debt will exceed annual gross domestic product next year, a milestone that would put the US in the company of countries like Greece whose accumulated debt exceeds the size of their economies, the AP reports. The $3.3 trillion figure is more than double the levels experienced after the market meltdown and Great Recession of 2008-09. Government spending, fueled by four coronavirus response measures, would register at $6.6 trillion, $2 trillion-plus more than 2019.
The shutdown of the economy in the spring led lawmakers and President Trump to pump money into stimulus steps that have helped the economy in the short term. Most economists are untroubled by such huge borrowing when the economy is in such peril, and the debt was barely a concern when a cornerstone $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill passed almost unanimously in March. But now that lawmakers and the White House are quarreling over the size and scope of a fifth virus relief bill, Republicans are growing skittish at the enormous costs of battling the pandemic. The Democratic-controlled House passed a $3.5 trillion measure in May. Sentiment among top leaders in the GOP-held Senate has been for a bill in the $1 trillion range, with recent party efforts focused on a measure that's even smaller.
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