The federal government is still spending money it doesn’t have at a break-neck pace – and that’s before Congress approves some version of a new stimulus package.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, this year’s federal deficit could top $2.3 trillion. That actually qualifies as good news:

While smaller than the $3.13 trillion shortfall in fiscal 2020, the red ink this year still will be the second-largest in the nation’s history either in total dollar terms or as a proportion of the $20.9 trillion U.S. economy.

Whereas the previous deficit was 14.9% of GDP, the 2021 level is projected to be 10.3%.

Progress, right? Compared to last year’s record debt, yes it is. But let’s not forget that it all gets added to the ever-growing pile of IOUs:

Currently, the public share of the $27.9 trillion national debt comes to $21.8 trillion, or a little above 100% of GDP. The CBO anticipates that number will continue to grow, hitting $35.3 trillion or 107% of GDP by 2031. That would be the highest debt-to-GDP ratio in U.S. history.

The average annual deficit is estimated at $1.2 trillion through 2031, which will top the 50-year average of 3.3% of GDP.

It’s a spending spree that can continue right up to the moment it can’t. It’s only a matter of when (and who gets stuck with the bill).

Image Credit: By Jericho [CC BY 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons