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Budget Deficit Nears $1 Trillion, Highest Level Since 2012

(Marcos Brindicci/Reuters)

The federal budget deficit for the 2019 fiscal year stands $984 billion, up 26 percent from the $779 billion deficit recorded at the end of 2018, the Treasury Department announced on Friday.

The deficit has exploded over the past year despite substantial economic growth. GOP tax cuts in 2017, combined with increased discretionary spending and a failure to rein in entitlement programs, have contributed to the increase.

The deficit stood at $665 billion in 2017 prior to the passage of tax cuts that are projected to increase the deficit by $2 trillion over ten years, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

“America remains on the fast track to trillion-dollar deficits, rising rapidly as far as the eye can see,” said Michael A. Peterson, CEO of the Peterson Foundation, in comments reported by The Hill.

“With all of the important investments we need to make in our future,” Peterson continued, “we find ourselves in a situation where interest costs are the fastest growing program in the federal budget. That’s not where we want growth.”

President Trump had promised during his campaign to substantially lower the budget deficit. In a 2016 interview, Trump asserted that he could eliminate the entire national debt of $19 trillion “over a period of eight years.”

Trump maintained at the time that he could close the national budget gap by renegotiating trade deals with China and partners in NATO.

Previous efforts to control the deficit, such as a 2011 push by the GOP-led House to amend the constitution to require a balanced budget, have proven politically unpopular and have fallen apart upon contact with the legislative process. Then-House Republican minority leader Paul Ryan focused much of his efforts on reducing the deficit, but left office in 2018 presiding over increased federal debt.

“There is very little discussion among Republicans about the deficit, and virtually no serious outreach to Democrats for any sort of bipartisan deal,” said Manhattan Institute budget expert Brian Riedl in comments to the Washington Post. “The parties are not talking on this issue.”

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Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.

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