Here’s a headline you might have missed amid the onslaught of news about Julian Assange, William Barr, Nipsey Hussle and Michael Avenatti: “US budget deficit running 15% higher than a year ago.”
The story cites this monthly report from the Treasury Department detailing these few eye-popping facts:
1) The budget deficit grew $146.9 billion in the month of March alone.
2) The deficit for this fiscal year is now $691 billion – a 15% increase (or roughly $100 billion) from where we were at this point in 2018.
3) Treasury is projecting that the deficit will surge over $1 trillion by the end of the fiscal year in September.
To which, our politicians have responded: :/
“Nobody cares,” White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney reportedly told a group of Republicans who wondered why President Donald Trump wasn’t going to mention the ever-growing deficit in his State of the Union Speech earlier this year.
That’s a massive change from where Trump, Mulvaney and the rest of the Republican Party were on the dangers of debt and deficits just a few years ago. Here’s Trump talking to Sean Hannity in 2016 about how easily he will balance the federal budget:
“It can be done. … It will take place and it will go relatively quickly. … If you have the right people, like, in the agencies and the various people that do the balancing … you can cut the numbers by two pennies and three pennies and balance a budget quickly and have a stronger and better country.”
So, well, it hasn’t turned out that way. At all.
Here’s the kicker: Trump isn’t likely to pay a price – either within his own party or the broader electorate – for the soaring deficit. Less than 50% of people in a January Pew poll said that lowering the federal deficit should be a top priority of Washington policymakers. That’s down, rapidly, from 72% who said the same earlier this decade.
The Point: Deficits have lost their salience as a political issue. But that doesn’t mean they are going away. And, at some point, our political (and economic) systems will be forced to deal with our growing mountain of debt.