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Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

The U.S. budget deficit ballooned to $2.81 trillion from last October through July — a record for the budgetary period, per a Treasury statement published Wednesday.

Details: $63 billion was added to the deficit last month. That was the lowest monthly figure since the pandemic began, amid a fall in government spending and as the tax filing deadline was extended to July 15.

  • Marc Goldwein, senior vice president at the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, told the Washington Post the monthly budget situation was down to a "huge influx of taxes that would otherwise be paid in April."
  • "The vast majority of the lower deficit is driven by the delay of tax season," Goldwein added.
  • A key source of spending in July lies with the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Labor, which provided an additional $600 per week to qualifying unemployed individuals until that payment expired last month.

The big picture: Congress has spent trillions of dollars in coronavirus relief, but negotiations for the next stimulus package have stalled. Meanwhile, millions of Americans remain without a job.

  • Fed Chair Jerome Powell has said it's "not the time to prioritize" the deficit as a concern as he focuses on supporting the economy, noting: "There's really no limit to what we can do with these lending programs that we have."

Go deeper: CBO says deficit will approach $4 trillion in 2020

Go deeper

Emergency Fed lending programs to expire under Mnuchin

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. Photo: Caroline Brehman-Pool via Getty

The Treasury Department will not extend several Federal Reserve lending programs set to expire by year's end that were put in place at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Why it matters: There is concern that pulling the plug on these loan programs will negatively impact the still-fragile economy. Eliminating the programs could hobble the Fed and make it harder to revive similar assistance under a new Congress.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
Nov 20, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Steven Mnuchin acts to hobble the Fed

Photo: Toni L. Sandys/Pool/Getty Images

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was one of the heroes of the coronavirus crisis, working hand-in-glove with Fed chair Jay Powell to give the central bank all the ammunition it needed to fight the virus and the associated economic recession. Now, he's trying to take that ammunition away.

Why it matters: If he's successful, Mnuchin will effectively disarm the Fed, creating a lot more economic downside once President-elect Biden takes office.

Fringe right plots new attacks out of sight

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Domestic extremists are using obscure and private corners of the internet to plot new attacks ahead of Inauguration Day. Their plans are also hidden in plain sight, buried in podcasts and online video platforms.

Why it matters: Because law enforcement was caught flat-footed during last week's Capitol siege, researchers and intelligence agencies are paying more attention to online threats that could turn into real-world violence.