- The Washington Times - Friday, March 22, 2019

February was the worst month in the history of the U.S. government, deficit-wise, setting an all-time record at $234 billion in the red, according to new figures released Friday.

The grim news was powered by surges in Pentagon spending and paying out tax credits under the GOP’s new tax law, along with more steady increases in Medicare and Social Security spending — which are constant problems for the federal budget.

All told, the government took in just $167 billion and spent $401 billion last month, the Treasury Department reported.

That just surpassed the $232 billion deficit President Obama notched in February 2012, during the depths of his stimulus tax cuts and spending spree.

President Trump has followed much the same formula of spending and tax cuts, though his mix is slightly different, with massive increases in Pentagon spending to go along with domestic hikes.

Analysts caution against reading too much into a single month’s numbers, though they say the overall trend is clearly in the wrong direction.

It’s also unlikely that things get better any time soon.

Mr. Trump submitted a budget earlier this month that calls for continued defense hikes, though he urges deep domestic spending cuts and an extension of tax cuts. Those are unlikely to go anywhere in a Democratic-controlled House.

Instead, the conversation on Capitol Hill is over how much more to spend.

The White House says if Congress adopts its budget, and if the economy grows at 3 percent a year for the foreseeable future, deficits can be tamed in 15 years. Neither outcome is likely.

Instead, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi, Wyoming Republican, unveiled his own plan Friday that includes more realistic economic growth projections and more realistic spending plans.

His goal is to keep deficits lower than $1 trillion a year.

Fiscal year 2019 is five months old and the government already is running a cumulative $544 billion deficit.

• David Sherfinski contributed to this article.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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