WASHINGTON - The U.S. government, faced with a surge in COVID-19 cases and their economic impact, said it incurred its biggest monthly deficit ever in June, an $864 billion figure that is more than the country usually has recorded annually throughout its history.
The deficit occurred as the White House and Congress authorized trillions of dollars in massive relief programs to combat the coronavirus, even as more than 40 million workers have been laid off and curtailed consumer spending, thus cutting tax revenues.
The June figure topped the previous single month deficit record, $738 billion in April, as the coronavirus began to spread across the country.
Now, even as the government’s ledger sheet shows month after month of red ink, the country is faced with a soaring number of coronavirus infections, more than 60,000 a day on some recent days.
While the White House and Congress are deliberating over how much more aid to dispatch to unemployed workers, if any, they also are considering how much assistance to send to hard-pressed businesses and state and local governments.
Some conservative Republican lawmakers have voiced concern about adding more to the country’s burgeoning long-term debt, now totaling more than $26 trillion.
For the first nine months of this budget year which began last Oct. 1, the deficit now totals $2.74 trillion — also a record for three quarters of a budget year.
The Congressional Budget Office is predicting that for the year, the deficit will reach $3.7 trillion, easily topping the previous annual record of $1.4 trillion set in 2009, a time when the government approved relief programs to fight the recession that started a year earlier.
In most years, the U.S. has worried about the ballooning long-term debt when its annual deficit has topped $1 trillion. But the U.S. spent about $2 trillion more than it received in tax revenue from April to June alone.
Congress approved, and President Donald Trump signed a $2 trillion coronavirus aid package in March. It included a $600-a-week boost in aid for unemployed Americans that is expiring at the end of July and one-time $1,200 stimulus payments to most adults in the country.
The aid was aimed at propping up the economy and helping Americans weather the effects of the pandemic.