President Bidens First Year In Office
As we noted, the national debt increased by $2.11 trillion in President Bidens first year in office. That amount was inflated by President Bidens American Rescue Plan Act, which we estimate accounts for $1.34 trillion or 63.5% of the increase by itself.
The following waterfall chart breaks down where most the money the U.S. government newly borrowed in President Bidens first year in office came from:
We find the Federal Reserve loaned Uncle Sam 45% of all the net new borrowing. Foreign entities loaned the U.S. government the second largest amount at 33% of the net change, while U.S. individuals and institutions contributed the remaining 22%.
I think the most surprising part of the analysis is how much President Bidens American Rescue Plan contributed to the nations indebtedness. That burden comes on top of its contributions to todays inflation.
Debt Issuance: Government Account Series
Debt held by government accountsin the form of Government Account Series securitiesis mostly determined by the transactions of a few large trust funds. When a trust fund receives cash that is not immediately needed to pay benefits or to cover the programs expenses, the Treasury credits the trust fund with that income by issuing GAS securities to the fund. The Treasury then uses the cash to finance the governments ongoing activities. When revenues for a trust fund program fall short of expenses, the reverse happens: The Treasury redeems some of the GAS securities. The crediting and redemption of securities are intragovernmental transactions between the Treasury and trust funds, but both directly affect the amount of debt subject to limit.
On many days, the amount of outstanding GAS securities does not change much. However, that amount can fall noticeably when redemptions occur because of the payment of benefits under programs such as Social Security and Medicare. The Treasury normally offsets the redemption of GAS securities, which reduces the amount of debt subject to limit, by borrowing additional amounts from the public to obtain the cash necessary to make benefit payments. In addition, most GAS securities pay interest to the funds holding them, and those payments are reinvested in the form of additional securities.7
$2000 Stimulus Checks But To Whom
The Biden administration may have a difficult time convincing lawmakers to support $2,000 stimulus checks a popular idea advocated by both Trump and Senator Bernie Sanders.
Led by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, many Republicans have opposed $2,000 stimulus checks. Last week, moderate Democrat Senator Joe Manchin initially told the Washington Post he was absolutely against $2,000 stimulus checks. He later clarified he could support more checks if they were narrow in scope and targeted for those who need them.
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Tracking The Federal Deficit: May 2020
The Congressional Budget Office reported that the federal government ran a deficit of $399 billion in May, the eighth month of fiscal year 2020. This represents almost double the monthly deficit recorded in May 2019. So far this fiscal year, the budget deficit has mounted to $1.88 trillion, more than two-and-a-half times as large as at this point last year . Total revenues so far this fiscal year are down 11% compared to the same point last year, while outlays are up 29% .
Analysis of notable trends: CBO notes that the fiscal year so far can be split into two distinct parts: one before the new coronavirus had affected economic output and federal finances and one in which the pandemic had ravaged both . In the pre-coronavirus part of the year, outlays and revenues were each higher than at the same point last year. During the past two months, however, outlays soared while revenues evaporated .
Outlays have surged in response to the health emergency itself and the resulting economic fallout: for example, spending on unemployment insurance soared from $2 billion last May to $93 billion this May spending on refundable tax credits surged from $3 billion last May to $53 billion this May outlays from the Small Business Administration rose from $98 million last May to $35 billion this May and spending on the Public Health Social Services Emergency Fund climbed from $250 million last May to $27 billion this May.
Tracking The Federal Deficit: July 2020
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the federal government ran a deficit of $61 billion in July, the tenth month of fiscal year 2020. Although this Julys deficit was actually smaller than last Julys $120 billion deficit, the change does not represent an improved fiscal condition but a mere timing shift. The deadline for non-withheld individual and corporate income taxes, normally in April, was delayed until July of this year, causing an unusual spike in July revenue . Even this influx of taxes was overcome by monthly outlays that, at $624 billion, were 68% greater than last Julys. The cumulative budget deficit for FY2020 now stands at $2.8 trillion, more than triple the deficit at this point last year.
Analysis of notable trends: Stepping back from monthly fluctuations caused by the change in filing deadlines, total revenue so far this fiscal year is down 1% from this point last year. Revenues through this March had actually been 6% higher than through the same point last fiscal year, as higher individual and corporate earnings led to greater individual and corporate income tax receipts. Then the pandemic hit. From April through July, revenues are 10% lower than over same months last year, a combination of economic damage and legislation that gave individuals and corporations greater tax deductions.
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What Is The Current Situation
P.L. 116-37 specifies that the amount of borrowing that occurs during the suspension of the debt limit will be added to the previous ceiling of $22.0 trillion. As of June 30, 2021, an additional $6.5 trillion had been borrowed, bringing the amount of outstanding debt subject to the statutory limit to $28.5 trillion. The new debt limit, which will be established on August 1, 2021, will reflect additional borrowing through July 31.
If the current suspension is not extended or if a higher debt limit is not legislated before August 1, from that date forward, under normal procedures, the Treasury will have no room to borrow other than to replace maturing debt. To avoid breaching the limit, the Treasury would then begin to take the extraordinary measures that, along with cash inflows, should allow it to finance the governments activities for a limited time without an increase in the debt ceiling.
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Risks To Economic Growth
Debt levels may affect economic growth rates. In 2010, economists Kenneth Rogoff and Carmen Reinhart reported that among the 20 developed countries studied, average annual GDP growth was 34% when debt was relatively moderate or low , but it dips to just 1.6% when debt was high . In April 2013, the conclusions of Rogoff and Reinhartâs study came into question when a coding error in their original paper was discovered by Herndon, Ash and Pollin of the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Herndon, Ash and Pollin found that after correcting for errors and unorthodox methods used, there was no evidence that debt above a specific threshold reduces growth. Reinhart and Rogoff maintain that after correcting for errors, a negative relationship between high debt and growth remains. However, other economists, including Paul Krugman, have argued that it is low growth which causes national debt to increase, rather than the other way around.
Commenting on fiscal sustainability, former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke stated in April 2010 that âNeither experience nor economic theory clearly indicates the threshold at which government debt begins to endanger prosperity and economic stability. But given the significant costs and risks associated with a rapidly rising federal debt, our nation should soon put in place a credible plan for reducing deficits to sustainable levels over time.â
Tracking The Federal Deficit: June 2020
The Congressional Budget Office reported that the federal government ran a deficit of $864 billion in June, the ninth month of fiscal year 2020. This monthly deficit is more than 100 times larger than last Junes deficit of $8 billion. This difference came from a sizable drop in revenues, which were down 28% from last June , and especially from a massive increase in outlays, up 223% from last June . The budget deficit so far this fiscal year has surged to $2.7 trillion, $2 trillion more than at the same point last year. As exemplified by June, the cumulative difference stems from a drop in revenues13% lower than at the same point last yearand a much bigger leap in outlays49% higher than at this time last year.
The drop in revenue between last June and this one was due almost entirely to the administration delaying the deadline for quarterly tax payments from June 15 to July 15. Monthly revenue was down $93 billion compared to a year ago, of which $43 billion came from delaying corporate tax payments while $42 billion came from delaying individual and payroll tax payments. CBO expects most of this delayed revenue to eventually be collected, although some will be lost as businesses fail before the new payment deadlines.
Tracking The Federal Deficit: August 2021
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the federal government ran a deficit of $173 billion in August, the eleventh month of fiscal year 2021. Because August 1 fell on a weekend this year, certain large federal payments that typically pay out on the first of the month were shifted into late July. If not for this timing shift, the August deficit would have been $233 billion$60 billion greater than reported. Monthly revenues rose 20% compared to last August, primarily due to increased income and payroll tax receipts. Spending increased by 4% year over year, driven by changes in pandemic response spending.
So far this fiscal year, the federal government has run a cumulative deficit of $2.7 trillion, the difference between $3.6 trillion in revenue and $6.3 trillion in spending. This deficit is 10% lower than over the same period in FY2020, but more than 150% larger than the FY2019 deficit at this point in the year.
Analysis of Notable Trends: With one month to go until the close of fiscal year 2021, the federal government is on track to record a somewhat smaller deficit than last year. The economic recovery has buoyed revenues, and the tapering of some large pandemic relief programs has slowed growth in outlays.
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Tracking The Federal Deficit: February 2020
The Congressional Budget Office reported that the federal government generated a $235 billion deficit in February, the fifth month of fiscal year 2020. Februarys deficit is a $1 billion increase from the $234 billion deficit recorded a year earlier in February 2019. Februarys deficit brings the total deficit so far this fiscal year to $625 billion, which is 15% higher than the same period last year . Total revenues so far in FY2020 increased by 7% , while spending increased by 9% , compared to the same period last year.
Analysis of Notable Trends inThis Fiscal Year to Date: Through the first five months of FY2020, individual income tax refunds fell by 6% , increasing net revenue, as the timing of refund payments varies annually. Customs duties rose by 14% , partly due to tariffs imposed by the current administration, primarily on imports from China. On the spending side, net interest on the public debt increased by 6% even amidst historically low interest ratesbecause the overall debt burden has risen. Outlays for the Department of Veterans Affairs rose by 7% because of rising participation in veterans disability compensation, growing average disability benefits, and increasing spending on a program that helps veterans receive treatment in non-VA facilities.
Tracking The Federal Deficit: November 2021
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the federal government ran a deficit of $193 billion in November, the second month of fiscal year 2022. This deficit was the difference between $474 billion of spending and $281 billion of revenue. Novembers deficit was 33% larger than the deficit recorded in November 2020. However, spending last November was artificially lowered by the fact that November 1 fell on a weekend, shifting $63 billion worth of payments into late October. If not for the timing shift, this Novembers deficit would have been 7% less than that of November last year.
Analysis of notable trends: Through the first two months of FY2022, the federal government has run a deficit of $358 billion$71 billion less than at this point last yearas spending rose 4% and revenues surged 24% this year, reflective of the nations ongoing economic recovery.
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Tracking The Federal Deficit: February 2021
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the federal government ran a deficit of $312 billion in February 2021, the fifth month of fiscal year 2021. This months deficitthe difference between $246 billion in revenue and $558 billion in spendingwas $77 billion more than last Februarys. The deficit so far in fiscal year 2021 has climbed to just over $1 trillion, an 83% year-over-year increase . Year-over-year, total spending has risen by 25% and revenues have increased by 5%.
Analysis of Notable Trends: Increased spending in February, and fiscal year 2021 as a whole, mostly resulted from pandemic relief legislation. For instance, the Small Business Administrations Paycheck Protection Program accounted for most of the $133 billion spending increase from last February to this one. SBA outlays soared to $91 billion this February compared to only $100 million in the same month last year. The other largest spending changes were greater outlays on unemployment compensation and $17 billion less in refundable tax credit payments because of a delayed start to the tax filing season this year.
Despite a historic recession, revenues were 5% higher in the first five months of fiscal year 2021 than during the same period last year . This healthy growth is surprising, especially when compared to the onset of the last major recession: In the first five months of fiscal year 2009, revenues plunged 11% year-over-year.
Q& a: Everything You Should Know About The Debt Ceiling
The federal debt ceiling was raised in December of 2021 by $2.5 trillion to $31.381 trillion, which is expected to last until at least July of 2023. At that point, the Treasury Department may begin using accounting tools at their disposal, called extraordinary measures, to avoid defaulting on the governments obligations. At the point of exhaustion of those measures, absent a new agreement to either raise or suspend the debt ceiling, the Treasury will be unable to continue paying the nations bills. Congress could address the debt ceiling through reconciliation, which provides for passage of legislation with a simple majority vote in the Senate.
The debt ceiling is the legal limit on the total amount of federal debt the government can accrue. The limit applies to almost all federal debt, including the roughly $24.3 trillion of debt held by the public and the roughly $6.9 trillion the government owes itself as a result of borrowing from various government accounts, like the Social Security and Medicare trust funds. As a result, the debt continues to rise due to both annual budget deficits financed by borrowing from the public and from trust fund surpluses, which are invested in Treasury bills with the promise to be repaid later with interest.
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Tracking The Federal Deficit: April 2022
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the federal government ran a surplus of $308 billion in April 2022, the seventh month of fiscal year 2022. This surplus was the difference between $864 billion in receipts and $556 billion in spending. Aprils surplus compares to a $226 billion deficit in April 2021, with the dramatic change primarily due to the winding down of most pandemic relief spending and income tax receipts arriving in April 2022 that were delayed during the last fiscal year. In both 2021 and 2022, May 1 fell on a weekend, shifting some outlays into April that would normally have occurred in May. If not for those shifts, the April 2022 surplus would have been $373 billion and the April 2021 deficit would have been $166 billion. The following discussion excludes the effects of those timing shifts.
Analysis of notable trends: The federal government typically runs a surplus in April, the month when most taxpayers pay individual income taxes. However, due to high levels of pandemic relief spending and the IRSs decision to delay Tax Day in 2020 and 2021, April 2022 marked the first April surplus since 2019.
Tracking The Federal Deficit: August 2019
The Congressional Budget Office reported that the federal government generated a $200 billion deficit in August, the eleventh month of Fiscal Year 2019. This makes for a total deficit of $1.067 trillion so far this fiscal year, 19 percent higher than over the same period last year. Total revenues so far in FY 2019 increased by 3 percent , while spending increased by 7 percent , compared to the same period last year.
Analysis of Notable Trends this Fiscal Year to Date: Trends in the major categories of revenue and spending continued from previous monthscompared to last year, individual income and payroll taxes collectively rose by 3 percent , while spending for the largest mandatory programs collectively increased by 6 percent . Revenues from customs duties increased by 72 percent , primarily due to new tariffs imposed on certain imports from China. Estate tax revenue decreased by 25 percent due to the 2017 tax cuts which doubled the value of the estate tax exemption. Additionally, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac remitted $16 billion more in payments to the Treasury this year. Finally, net interest payments on the federal debt continued to rise, increasing by 14 percent versus last year due to higher interest rates and a larger federal debt burden.
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