WASHINGTON (AP) — The federal government's budget deficit for the first half of this budget year totaled $743.6 billion, up 7.6% from last year, and well on its way to topping $1 trillion even before the impacts of the coronavirus were felt.
The Treasury Department reported Friday that the deficit from October, the start of the government's budget year, through March was $52.5 billion higher than the same period a year ago.
The Trump administration and the Congressional Budget Office were already forecasting that this year's deficit would top $1 trillion for the first time since 2012. But now with a $2.2 trillion rescue package approved by Congress and government spending expected to rise sharply, private economists are estimating that this year's deficit could well exceed $2 trillion.
Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics, said that he expects the deficit to hit $2.5 trillion this year and also next year. Previously, the highest deficits in dollar terms occurred in a four-year stretch from 2009 through 2012 when the government was spending billions of dollars to pull the country out of the deepest downturn since the Great Recession, a slump triggered by the 2008 financial crisis.