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Actual stimulus payouts grew dramatically, with education-related Recovery Act payments nearly doubling and highway spending more than quadrupling.

The $814 billion stimulus was signed into law in February 2009 but the rate of spending grew only gradually. Budget trackers say the spending peaked in the last six months and will now taper off fairly dramatically — though Congress and the White House have called for another round of stimulus spending.

Fueled first by the Wall Street bailout and then by the stimulus payouts, the government has run a deficit for every month beginning in October 2008. That 24-month streak is more than twice the previous record of 11 months, which was reached once under President George H.W. Bush and twice under President Reagan.

The monthly deficit streak is a measure of how consistently bad the country’s fiscal picture is. Even during the major deficits of the 1980s and early 1990s, the government would have occasional months in the black.

It’s not clear how bad fiscal year 2011 will look. The economy is still sputtering, but with certain tax breaks set to expire, the government’s revenue from corporate taxes should continue to grow.

On the spending side, though, the picture is unclear. Congress failed to pass a budget and has not adopted any of the 12 annual spending bills, and the government has been running on a stop-gap “continuing resolution” since Oct. 1.