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Unprecedented Times Mean Unprecedented Deficits Now, Restraint in Future Years

Washington, DC – The following is a statement from G. William Hoagland, senior vice president at the Bipartisan Policy Center, on the Treasury Department’s release of the final deficit figure for fiscal year 2020, clocking in at a record-breaking $3.1 trillion:

“Unprecedented times call for unprecedented deficits. Today’s deficit figure is the result of six months of fighting the pandemic and its economic fallout. This previously unimaginable deficit largely reflects the spending surge to meet a national crisis. While that crisis is still ongoing, the necessary relief has disappeared.

“As Congress and the administration squabble over another round of fiscal relief, temporary layoffs are hardening into permanent job losses, millions of Americans are teetering on the verge of eviction, and food insecurity has soared to record heights. Emergency relief for households and businesses must be the nation’s top priority.

“But today’s deficit numbers are yet another reminder that once this crisis passes, we are long-overdue to address our federal budget challenges. Trillion-dollar deficits are appropriate during emergencies, but more recently, they have become standard policy even in good times. We must respond to this emergency—and then restore fiscal balance to preserve our capacity to meet future ones.”

G. William Hoagland is available for comment.