The U.S. budget deficit grew to a record $1.7 trillion in the first half of the fiscal year as the third round of stimulus payments sent federal spending soaring last month. Reports from The Wall Street Journal.
The federal government spent $660 billion more than it collected in tax revenue this March, the Department of Treasury said Monday, as the Biden administration’s stimulus package pushed the US monthly deficit near record highs.
There were plenty of pundits who, in the months since Joe Biden was inaugurated as president, have targeted Republicans who’ve suddenly started caring about the budget deficit.
“Republicans are channeling their inner Louis Renault, the corrupt police chief in ‘Casablanca’ who, needing a pretense to close Rick’s Cafe, said he was ‘shocked, shocked’ there was gambling going on, as the waiter slips him his winnings,” Albert Hunt, an opinion contributor to The Hill, wrote in a January piece.
“Republicans are right to be skeptical about the practicality of many of the Democrats’ ideas, but by opposing them they find themselves in an intensely uncomfortable place,” The Wall Street Journal’s Gerard Baker wrote in a March article.
“Conservatives argue fiercely against Democratic spending plans on the grounds of fiscal restraint, but it rings hollow after decades in which Republican presidents and congresses have added as enthusiastically as Democrats to the federal debt burden,” Baker said.
Yes, there’s a convincing tocsin to these arguments; who are the Republicans to complain about fiscal incontinence when they had control of both houses of Congress and the White House from 2017 to 2019 and could barely be bothered to feign making deficit reduction a priority?
However, there’s a point to be made about what “restraint” entails when the Donald Trump years are compared to the Biden months, particularly after the Democrats rammed through a COVID-19 relief package that had little to do with COVID-19 and are now looking to shove through an infrastructure package that has little to do with infrastructure.
The impact of these tax-and-spend policies already could be felt in March — which was one of the three worst months ever for the federal deficit.
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