Searching for smart, safe news you can TRUST?

Support safe, smart, REAL journalism. Sign up for our Axios AM & PM newsletters and get smarter, faster.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Searching for smart, safe news you can TRUST?

Support safe, smart, REAL journalism. Sign up for our Axios AM & PM newsletters and get smarter, faster.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Minneapolis-St. Paul

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa-St. Petersburg news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa-St. Petersburg

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The Congressional Budget Office estimated Friday that the U.S. budget deficit will be roughly $3.7 trillion for fiscal year 2020, with public debt projected at 101% of GDP — and that was before the "phase four" $484 billion relief package passed by Congress late last week.

Why it matters: In a world of historically high income inequality and historically low productivity and growth, in which debt levels were already historically high, the U.S. and the world at large are in wholly unprecedented territory.

  • Already, government spending is far outpacing any previous period in American history and there is no end in sight.
  • Following World War II, which was the last time the ratio of public borrowing to GDP approached its current depths, the U.S. was able to use the spending on programs that grew the economy and built an unrivaled middle class.
  • There is little expectation that the current debt will lead to a similar outcome.
Data: CBO's projections for calendar year 2020. Table: Axios Visuals

Driving the news: Following the $2.2 trillion CARES Act and the "phase four" relief package, Congress has signaled there is still much to do, with various "CARES Act 2" proposals in the pipeline.

  • The White House also has made clear it is prepared to back more spending, with President Trump refocusing his efforts "on the economy and a more hopeful, forward-looking message," as Axios' Jonathan Swan reports.
  • Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has asserted that he favors new economic measures “a hell of a lot bigger” than the CARES Act.

Goldman Sachs researchers in a note Sunday said they expect Congress to approve another $550 billion before the 2020 fiscal year ends in September, plus untold spending on infrastructure, direct payments and unemployment benefits to come in fiscal year 2021.

Between the lines: Already, critics of the government spending have started to emerge from all sides...

  • Some accuse Washington of abandoning ordinary Americans in favor of big business.
  • Some oppose direct cash payments and increased unemployment benefits.
  • Some argue Congress has cravenly dispersed funds to friends and favored industries over the greater good.

The big picture: Economists have warned for years that excessive government spending would crowd out private investment and drive interest rates higher, choking off growth and undermining the economy.

  • Either they are right and we are doomed to prolonged economic misery or they are wrong and a full-scale reappraisal of the modern economic model is underway.
Data: CBO, BEAU.S. Treasury; Table: Axios Visuals

Go deeper: White House to shift to economic message on coronavirus

Go deeper

Updated Aug 4, 2020 - Health

The states where face coverings are mandatory

Data: Compiled by Axios; Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves issued a statewide mask mandate on Tuesday for people in public, as well as teachers and students going back to school.

The big picture: 34 states, in addition to the District of Columbia, have issued some form of a mask mandate as infections surge across the country.

Rafael Nadal opts out of U.S. Open, citing rising coronavirus cases

Rafael Nadal at the ATP Mexican Open at Princess Mundo Imperial in February. Photo: Hector Vivas/Getty Images

Defending champion Rafael Nadal tweeted Tuesday that he will not attend the 2020 U.S. Open due to rising coronavirus infections, noting that "it looks like we still don’t have control of it."

The big picture: The tournament was rescheduled over the summer to be held in August and September without spectators. Nadal's absence puts his bid to equal Roger Federer’s record for men's Grand Slam titles on pause.

Updated Oct 7, 2020 - Health

World coronavirus updates

Expand chart
Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

New Zealand now has active no coronavirus cases in the community after the final six people linked to the Auckland cluster recovered, the country's Health Ministry confirmed in an email Wednesday.

The big picture: The country's second outbreak won't officially be declared closed until there have been "no new cases for two incubation periods," the ministry said. Auckland will join the rest of NZ in enjoying no domestic restrictions from late Wednesday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, declaring that NZ had "beat the virus again."