The U.S. Treasury Department reported last Friday that the federal budget deficit for the just-completed fiscal year had risen by $80 billion over fiscal 2016 to the ominous-sounding $666 billion, a number many people think is an omen for the coming of the devil or anti-Christ.
In this case they may be right: The spending and taxing policies about to be put in place by the Trump administration and the Republican-controlled Congress will balloon the federal deficit to $1 trillion or more every year going forward.
And unlike the four consecutive $1 trillion deficits recorded during the first years of the Obama administration, these trillion dollar annual deficits will be the result of enacted changes in federal spending and taxing rather than on a temporary economic downturn. Some of these changes will be permanent. Others will need to be reapproved annually but are unlikely to be rejected in the future.
Here’s how the annual $1 trillion budget deficits will happen.
In July, the Congressional Budget Office projected (Table 1) that the Trump fiscal 2018 budget will result in an average annual deficit of about $677 billion between 2018 and 2022. But that took the Trump budget proposals at face value and assumed Congress would agree to all the spending cuts proposed by the White House, something that the House and Senate have already shown no interest in doing. That makes the average annual baseline deficit over the next five years closer to $750 billion.
That will make the annual deficit around $940 billion.