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Every month the U.S. Treasury releases data on the federal budget, including the current deficit. However, Treasury’s data for December 2018 were delayed due to a partial shutdown of the federal government. As a result, this page was updated using an estimate from the Congressional Budget Office. The following contains budget data for December 2018, which was the third month of fiscal year 2019.
The deficit for December 2018 was $12 billion smaller than recorded in December 2017. However, shifts in the timing of certain federal payments diminished the size of that change. Without those shifts, the December 2018 deficit would have been $32 billion larger than it was a year ago.
The cumulative deficit through the first three months of FY19 was $92 billion larger than it was through the first three months of FY18. However, shifts in the timing of certain federal payments had an effect on the growth in the deficit. Without those timing shifts, the deficit during the first three months of FY19 would have been $47 billion more than it was during the first three months of FY18.
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 2048. 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.