<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Even before the current economic crisis, the federal budget deficit was approaching record levels.&nbsp;” data-reactid=”16″>Even before the current economic crisis, the federal budget deficit was approaching record levels. 

Now, after multiple waves of economic stimulus, budget watchers have watched the red ink rise to a level never before seen.

“We will have spent as much in the first six months of this crisis as we did on stimulus over five years during the Great Recession,” said Marc Goldwein of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a bipartisan DC think tank.

“That money has done a lot of good,” Goldwein told Yahoo Finance, “but that doesn’t mean this borrowing is free.”

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="According to his group’s projections, the ballooning deficits will lead the national debt to grow from 79% of gross domestic product before the crisis to 101% this year. By 2030, the CRFB estimates, it will grow to somewhere between 118% and 130% of GDP.” data-reactid=”20″>According to his group’s projections, the ballooning deficits will lead the national debt to grow from 79% of gross domestic product before the crisis to 101% this year. By 2030, the CRFB estimates, it will grow to somewhere between 118% and 130% of GDP.

DES MOINES, IA - DECEMBER 18: A Peterson Foundation billboard displaying the national debt is pictured along Fleur Drive on December 18, 2019 in Des Moines, Iowa. (Photo by Steven Pope/Getty Images for PGPF)DES MOINES, IA - DECEMBER 18: A Peterson Foundation billboard displaying the national debt is pictured along Fleur Drive on December 18, 2019 in Des Moines, Iowa. (Photo by Steven Pope/Getty Images for PGPF)
A billboard displaying the national debt in Des Moines, Iowa from December 2019. It is now estimated to be almost $80,000 per person. (Steven Pope/Getty Images for PGPF)

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Other analyses have found similar eye-popping numbers. The CATO Institute recently suggested the crisis would add $6 trillion to the U.S. federal debt over time.” data-reactid=”32″>Other analyses have found similar eye-popping numbers. The CATO Institute recently suggested the crisis would add $6 trillion to the U.S. federal debt over time.

<h2 class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Trillions out the door in just weeks” data-reactid=”33″>Trillions out the door in just weeks

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Congress has authorized about $3.6 trillion in new spending since the crisis began in March. Some of that money will eventually be returned to the Treasury and so the estimates are that the net impact of the spending will be roughly $2.4 trillion.” data-reactid=”34″>Congress has authorized about $3.6 trillion in new spending since the crisis began in March. Some of that money will eventually be returned to the Treasury and so the estimates are that the net impact of the spending will be roughly $2.4 trillion.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="And the money has moved quickly. Over half of the cash from the CARES Act and a follow-up bill is estimated to have already been disbursed or committed. The Paycheck Protection Program has already approved over $520 billion in loans to small business, and the IRS has sent out more than $267 billion in checks to individuals. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has boasted that help for Americans, like the stimulus checks, went out “in record time.”” data-reactid=”35″>And the money has moved quickly. Over half of the cash from the CARES Act and a follow-up bill is estimated to have already been disbursed or committed. The Paycheck Protection Program has already approved over $520 billion in loans to small business, and the IRS has sent out more than $267 billion in checks to individuals. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has boasted that help for Americans, like the stimulus checks, went out “in record time.”

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="In fact, while GDP has shrunk in the early months of the recession, personal income is actually up by 5% to 8% compared with February. That’s counterintuitive but true, thanks to direct infusions of cash like unemployment benefits and the direct stimulus checks.” data-reactid=”36″>In fact, while GDP has shrunk in the early months of the recession, personal income is actually up by 5% to 8% compared with February. That’s counterintuitive but true, thanks to direct infusions of cash like unemployment benefits and the direct stimulus checks.

<h2 class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Debt levels ‘twice our historic average’” data-reactid=”37″>Debt levels ‘twice our historic average’

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="The Congressional Budget Office has already looked at the spending and estimates a 2020 budget deficit of $3.7 trillion. With another round of stimulus expected from Congress later this summer, it’s likely to grow even higher by the end of the year.” data-reactid=”38″>The Congressional Budget Office has already looked at the spending and estimates a 2020 budget deficit of $3.7 trillion. With another round of stimulus expected from Congress later this summer, it’s likely to grow even higher by the end of the year.

The CRFB has run the numbers out for 30 years. On a call with reporters, Goldwein emphasized that they are rough projections but they show “debt will reach 220% of GDP under current law, and about 270%” in 30 years if Congress passes more stimulus.

Debt Projections amid COVID-19Debt Projections amid COVID-19
Debt Projections amid COVID-19

“There is no precedent for anything close to that,” he said. “We’re talking about debt levels that are twice our historic average.”

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="The previous record deficit was $1.4 trillion set in 2009. The CRFB&nbsp;estimates that every single deficit in the coming decade is going to break that record, with an average deficit of $2 trillion over the next decade.” data-reactid=”52″>The previous record deficit was $1.4 trillion set in 2009. The CRFB estimates that every single deficit in the coming decade is going to break that record, with an average deficit of $2 trillion over the next decade.

“Now, why does this happen? Well, it’s a combination of the recession itself, and the response both are actually very costly,” said Goldwein.

<h2 class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Why ‘now is exactly the time we should be borrowing’” data-reactid=”54″>Why ‘now is exactly the time we should be borrowing’

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="The climbing deficits have led some Republican lawmakers to push for a pause on any more measures.&nbsp;“All of this is either borrowed money or created money and, either way, Americans are going to pay a price,” Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey told Yahoo Finance in a recent interview.” data-reactid=”55″>The climbing deficits have led some Republican lawmakers to push for a pause on any more measures. “All of this is either borrowed money or created money and, either way, Americans are going to pay a price,” Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey told Yahoo Finance in a recent interview.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Democrats have pushed ahead for more stimulus as soon as possible. The Democratic-led HEROES Act, which passed the House of Representatives in May but has been ignored by the Senate, came with a $3 trillion price tag.” data-reactid=”60″>Democrats have pushed ahead for more stimulus as soon as possible. The Democratic-led HEROES Act, which passed the House of Representatives in May but has been ignored by the Senate, came with a $3 trillion price tag.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content=""Now is exactly the time we should be borrowing,” Goldwein said of the money already spent, as it “makes sense to spread [the economic pain] over time.” He appeared as part of Yahoo Finance’s ongoing partnership with the Funding our Future campaign, a group of organizations advocating for increased retirement security for Americans.&nbsp;” data-reactid=”61″>”Now is exactly the time we should be borrowing,” Goldwein said of the money already spent, as it “makes sense to spread [the economic pain] over time.” He appeared as part of Yahoo Finance’s ongoing partnership with the Funding our Future campaign, a group of organizations advocating for increased retirement security for Americans. 

Congress is set to return in late July to possibly negotiate another stimulus deal and most expect a price tag of somewhere around a trillion dollars.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Ben Werschkul is a producer for Yahoo Finance in Washington, DC.” data-reactid=”63″>Ben Werschkul is a producer for Yahoo Finance in Washington, DC.

Read more:

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="One key senator argues against more stimulus: No need to ‘load the money cannon’ again” data-reactid=”65″>One key senator argues against more stimulus: No need to ‘load the money cannon’ again

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Coronavirus stimulus checks: Americans are spending payments in ‘two big ways’” data-reactid=”66″>Coronavirus stimulus checks: Americans are spending payments in ‘two big ways’

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Coronavirus stimulus checks: What would need to happen before a second round” data-reactid=”67″>Coronavirus stimulus checks: What would need to happen before a second round

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Read the latest financial and business news from Yahoo Finance” data-reactid=”68″>Read the latest financial and business news from Yahoo Finance

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Follow Yahoo Finance on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Flipboard, LinkedIn, YouTube, and reddit.” data-reactid=”69″>Follow Yahoo Finance on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Flipboard, LinkedIn, YouTube, and reddit.