The Corner

Economy & Business

The Deficit Grew by $149 Billion in 2016

The Congressional Budget Office recently released its Monthly Budget Review for September 2016. It includes a revised estimate of the deficit for 2016. It isn’t much different than the one projected in August. The document makes it hard to ignore that in 2016 the deficit grew by $149 billion, from $439 billion in 2015 to $588 billion at the end of FY2016. This explains why we haven’t heard president Obama brag about how the deficit is shrinking in a while.

Almost all of the $149 billion added to the deficit came from additional spending (estimated spending change: +$168 billion; estimated revenue change: +$19 billion). 

According to CBO, this deficit figure is more that our military budget for the year ($564 billion) but only slightly less than Medicare ($595 billion). If you add Social Security and Medicaid to the Medicare number, we spent $1.868 trillion on the three largest mandatory programs. 

We are happily and steadily heading back towards a trillion dollar deficit. By 2022, CBO projects a deficit of $954 billion assuming that Congress maintains the budget caps, which are supposed to make their comeback in 2017. But unlike the trillion dollar deficits we experienced during the recessions, these deficits will be there to stay and grow. It’s also assuming that the economy will keep growing at a meek but steady 1.9 percent a year. 

Speaking economic growth, I would like to ask my Keynesian friends: where is the economic boost you guys claim comes with deficit spending? 

And to everyone else, I’d ask: Don’t you care anymore? 

Veronique de Rugy — Veronique de Rugy is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

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