National debt

Behind the scenes: The debt ceiling looms

White House acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The next trillion-dollar fight concerns the debt ceiling. Global markets freak out any time members of Congress or White House officials float anything other than a drama-free debt-ceiling hike.

The state of play: As a House conservative, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney pushed to use the debt ceiling as a lever to cut spending. And as Trump's budget director, he favored the concept of "debt prioritization" — an idea that thrills some in the conservative movement but horrifies the markets, the Treasury secretary and the leadership of both parties.

U.S. budget deficit spikes 42% in first three months of fiscal year

Steve Mnuchin
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. budget deficit totaled $318.9 billion in the first quarter of the 2019 fiscal year, a 41.8% increase from the same period last year, according to data released by the Treasury Department.

Why it matters: The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projects that the deficit will keep growing and surpass $1 trillion by 2022, in part due to President Trump's tax cuts and increased government spending. Bloomberg's Katia Dmitrieva notes that the new deficit data "will likely fan concerns over America’s growing national debt," which surpassed $22 trillion for the first time this week.

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