Every month the U.S. Treasury releases data on the federal budget, including the current deficit. The following contains budget data for February 2019, which is the fifth month of fiscal year 2019.
The deficit for February 2019 was $19 billion larger than recorded in February 2018. This reflects a $30 billion increase in outlays, partially offset by a $12 billion increase in receipts.
The cumulative deficit through the first five months of FY19 was $153 billion larger than it was through the first five months of FY18. However, because October 1, 2017 fell on a weekend, $44 billion of payments were shifted forward to September 2017, which reduced the deficit recorded for FY18. If not for that shift, the deficit for the first five months of FY18 would have been about $435 billion and the deficit in the first five months of FY19 would have increased by about $110 billion.
While the deficit varies from month-to-month, and may even decline some months — for example, in April when taxpayers are submitting their personal income taxes — debt and deficits are on an unsustainable upward trajectory. The CBO projects that national debt could rise to about 150 percent of gross domestic product by 2049. That level of debt would far exceed the 50-year historical average of approximately 40% of GDP.
Why are such high-levels of debt so concerning? There are many reasons that Americans should be concerned about the rising national debt — particularly if you are concerned about economic growth, investments in our nation’s future, and preservation of our social safety net.