Jan 28, 2020

U.S. deficit projected to exceed $1 trillion in 2020

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The U.S. government's budget deficit is projected to top $1 trillion in 2020, according to the latest Congressional Budget Office report released Tuesday.

The big picture: If the projections pan out, this would be the first time since 2012 the deficit hit $1 trillion. In 2020, deficits are expected to increase from 4.6% of GDP to 5.4% in 2030 — growing to the highest sustained levels since World War II, according to the report.

  • 2017's tax cuts and a notable uptick in new spending are among the reasons for widening the deficit.

By the numbers: The CBO expects the federal government will spend $4.6 trillion in the 2020 fiscal year and bring in $3.6 trillion in tax revenue.

  • If current laws on taxes and spending remain unchanged, debt held by the public will jump to 98% by the end of 2030 — up from 79% of the GDP in 2019.
  • The economy is anticipated to expand by 2.2% in 2020, per the CBO's report, falling short of the Trump administration's 3% goal.
  • Total debt held by the U.S. government is also estimated to swell from roughly $18 trillion in 2020 to $31 trillion by 2030.

Reality check via the Washington Post: "The CBO report shows that tax collections are weaker than they would be without the 2017 Republican tax law, which permanently locked in lower rates for many corporations while creating temporary reductions for households."

What it means: If federal debt continues to rise at this pace, interest payments to foreign debt holders will increase and U.S. household incomes will decline.

Go deeper: National debt surpasses record $23 trillion

Go deeper

First trillion-dollar deficit not caused by the Great Recession

Data: Congressional Budget Office; Chart: Axios Visuals

The Congressional Budget Office expects the U.S. budget deficit will top $1 trillion in fiscal year 2020, the first trillion-dollar deficit in history not caused by the Great Recession.

Why it matters: The deficit is rising at a time of exceptionally low unemployment and solid economic growth, rather than during a crisis, which is typically when spending elevates.

Go deeperArrowJan 29, 2020

Bloomberg pitches raising $5 trillion by taxing the wealthy

Bloomberg in D.C. on Jan. 30. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Michael Bloomberg proposed generating roughly $5 trillion for education, infrastructure and climate change by hiking the tax rates of top earners and corporations in a plan released Saturday.

Why it matters: That $5 trillion goal beats former Vice President Joe Biden's plan to raise $3.2 trillion over a decade by increasing taxes, Sen. Elizabeth Warren's "ultra-millionaire tax" to bring in nearly $4 trillion, and just surpasses Sen. Bernie Sanders' plan to raise roughly $4.35 trillion by taxing the wealthy.

Trump's budget proposal relies on highly unlikely expectations

Reproduced from WSJ.com; Chart: Axios Visuals

President Trump is expected to double down on big spending and tax cuts when he releases his budget proposal for fiscal year 2021 later today.

The big picture: The budget proposes increases in defense spending and other categories and also assumes the annual budget deficit will fall from more than $1 trillion in 2020 to around $200 billion, largely as a result of increased U.S. growth.