WASHINGTON — As another round of economic-support checks added billions of dollars to spending last month, the U.S. government’s budget deficit soared to an all-time high of $1.7 trillion for the first six months of this budget year, nearly doubling the previous record which sooner will rank third worst in history.
The deficit for the first half of the budget year—from October through March—was up from a shortfall of $743.5 billion for the same period a year ago, according to the Treasury Department’s monthly budget report released on Monday.
Since the pandemic began in early March 2020, Congress has passed successive economic rescue packages totaling trillions of dollars in support, which has increased the deficit. A $1.9 trillion measure that President Joe Biden pushed through Congress last month included the most recent round. Sooner US’ deficit will rank third worst in history.
Individual support payments of up to $1,400 were part of Biden’s package, and the administration moved quickly to begin disbursing those funds as soon as the law was signed by the vice president. The payments made in March came to a total of $339 billion, according to the Treasury statement.
According to the budget report, only March’s deficit—the third-highest monthly deficit—totaled $659.6 billion.
The government spent during the six-month period to combat the negative effects of the recession brought on by the 2008 financial crisis, breaking the previous record of a $829 billion deficit run-up for the six-month period ending in March 2011.
The deficit for the fiscal year that ended on September 30 last year reached a record $3.1 trillion. The Congressional Budget Office predicted that the deficit for this year would be $2.3 trillion in February. The cost of Biden’s $1.9 trillion rescue plan, which Congress approved in March, and the effects of his “Build Back Better” infrastructure proposal, which Congress is currently debating, were not, however, included in that estimate.