Government Spending

After the Stimulus Binge, Brace for a Crash

Skyrocketing debt, higher borrowing costs, and a hobbled economy are predicted in the latest Congressional Budget Office report.

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As anybody who has ever snorted a few lines of white powder to enhance an evening knows, there is a price to be paid for that artificial energy. The short-term boost is followed by a crash of longer duration. Well, America, get ready for a hell of a hangover. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the federal government's recent stimulus spending—intended to offset the economic distress caused by voluntary social distancing and, especially, by mandatory lockdowns—is bound to be followed by an epic crash.

In a report published September 18, the CBO looks at the impact of four federal laws that are supposed to reduce the pain of social distancing as well as forced business closures and resulting job losses: the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2020; the Families First Coronavirus Response Act; the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act; and the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act. Those laws increased funding for federal agencies and for state and local governments, in addition to requiring employers to grant paid sick leave to employees, providing payments and tax credits to businesses and individuals, and offering loans and payments to businesses and health care providers to help keep them operating.

The idea was to keep America coasting as manufacturing, buying, and selling were sharply curtailed. But simulating economic prosperity in the absence of an economy is an expensive proposition.

Here's how the CBO characterizes these stimulus laws' effects on the U.S. economy:

Short-Term Effects. CBO estimates that the legislation will increase the level of real (inflation-adjusted) gross domestic product (GDP) by 4.7 percent in 2020 and 3.1 percent in 2021. From fiscal year 2020 through 2023, for every dollar that it adds to the deficit, the legislation is projected to increase GDP by about 59 cents.

Longer-Term Effects. By increasing debt as a percentage of GDP, the legislation is expected to raise borrowing costs, lower economic output, and reduce national income in the longer term.

The cost of this artificial boost—4.7 percent to GDP in 2020 and 3.1 percent in 2021—is $2.9 trillion in deficit spending over the same period, notes the CBO. The pandemic will pass, but we'll be paying for government actions taken during this time for many years to come.

How much will we pay? "Federal budget deficits raise the ratio of federal debt to GDP from 79 percent in 2019 to 109 percent in 2030," the CBO projects.

The growth of government debt to exceed the size of the entire economy for the first time since World War II was separately projected by the CBO earlier this month and is reiterated in the latest report.

In fact, deficits and debt may be worse than this report suggests. The CBO admitted in August that it tends to slightly overestimate government revenues. Lower revenues than anticipated will mean higher deficits unless government spending is reduced (don't hold your breath). That adds up to higher debt pretty quickly.

Nothing in the CBO report is really a surprise, since experts all along have been pointing out that we'll be paying for 2020's spending binge for many years to come.

"All this needed borrowing will obviously have a profound consequence on the national debt," Maya MacGuineas, president of the bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget and a supporter of federal stimulus spending, cautioned during July testimony before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee. "In the short run, borrowing is exactly what we need to be doing; in the longer-run, the debt accumulation will have to be dealt with."

"Unnecessary borrowing will just make it that much more difficult to get the national debt under control and stabilize our fiscal and economic future once this crisis has passed," MacGuineas added.

Other commenters have been more ambivalent, at best, about the wisdom of the stimulus packages.

"The increases in federal expenditures and the reduction in government revenue are being financed almost exclusively by borrowing and will push the federal debt to $30 trillion sometime during 2021," warned James D. Gwartney, a professor of economics and policy sciences at Florida State University. "Interest rates will inevitably rise at some point, and the additional interest cost will have to be covered by either higher taxes or money creation. The former will slow future economic growth, while the latter will be inflationary."

The CBO obviously agrees that government debt is unlikely to be under control anytime soon and that economic output is likely to suffer. The recent report also notes that "higher debt—coming at a time when the longer-term path for debt was already high—could eventually increase the risk of a fiscal crisis or of less abrupt economic changes, such as higher inflation or the undermining of the U.S. dollar's predominant role in global financial markets."

That's pretty gloomy stuff. But given years of cautionary language about debts and spending from the CBO, it may not even register on a jaded public. Among those paying attention, nasty economic consequences from rising deficits and debt were expected years before the pandemic and policy responses to the virus imposed new costs. How much more can people be expected to fret about a federal government that has long been addicted to spending far beyond its means?

The latest spending binge was irresistible for elected officials who need slight excuse for their compulsive behavior. "Airlifting cash into American households is one of those rare concepts that almost every politician can embrace," Michael Grunwald commented at Politico back when pandemic stimulus schemes were first floated.

It's a special occasion. What harm could one more line do, anyway?

America got its short-term boost from stimulus checks. We'll have plenty of opportunity to decide in the years to come whether it was worth the inevitable comedown.

NEXT: Half of Republicans Say New Justice Should Be Picked by Whoever Wins the Election

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  1. All Trump’s fault. No one would have died if he had been competent. Just look at the data.

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  3. “America got its short-term boost from stimulus checks.”

    Which were essentially transfer payments to landlords and mortgage companies.

    1. Cherry picking just the pits is kinda pointless unless you want a reputation is Peter Pessimist.

    2. The landlords who can’t evict deadbeat renters?

      1. Are they really deadbeats if the government is forcing their employers to shut their doors?

          1. So the 4A doesn’t apply when the government destroys the source of someone’s income?

            1. Did your parents never teach you that two wrongs don’t make a right?

              1. I see you, like Tulpa, went to the Ad Hominem School of Debate.

                1. Debate? I asked you a question and you lost your shit.

                2. sarcasmic
                  September.21.2020 at 1:39 pm
                  I see you, like Tulpa, went to the Ad Hominem School of Debate.

                  Ironic since he didn’t ad hom you and just asked if your parents taught you something.

                  Looks like sarcasmic never went to any achool of debate.

                  1. Well I didn’t use an Ad Hominem either but it’s sarc…

                  2. Did your parents teach you not to shit in the corner?

                    That’s not an ad hom. I’m just implying that you shit in the corner without saying the actual words “you shit in the corner.”

                    See how that works?

                    1. “That’s not an ad hom.”

                      Thank you for admtting you were lying and wrong.

                      “I’m just implying”

                      What you think people are implying is your fucking problem and still not an Ad Hominem.

                    2. That whooshing noise was my point flying over your head.

                    3. “That’s not an ad hom.”

                      I’m pretty sure I got that point, the only one you made.

                    4. It’s called sarcasm, dipshit.

                    5. Well you accidentally sarcasmed a correct and truthful answer.

                      Good job !

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            2. 1. What does the 4th amendment have to do with a private rental?

              2. Its not fair that your income was destroyed. It’s also not fair to make me, who had nothing to do with that, pick up your bills.

              In fact, it’s double unfair because it makes it harder for me to take care of the needy people in my community.

        1. You’re talking about yourself, aren’t you?

          1. Aren’t you going to bring up custody and drinking? No Tulpa post is complete without rumors, lies, and innuendo. You’re slipping.

            1. So yes, you are talking about yourself.

              1. Third grade playground taunts? You’re moving up in the world!

                1. Your refusal to answer and subsequent butt hurt overflow make it pretty obvious that you were talking about yourself.

                  1. You’re moving up to sixth grade! One gold star for you!

                    1. So did you get fired for laying again?

                      And how long until you’re homeless?

                      Maybe you can use that time to catch up on your reading and learn what an Ad Hominem is.

                    2. Ad hominem is arguing against the person, not what the person said. It’s your entire shtick.

                    3. It’s immensely fun watching you try so hard just to be competely wrong

                    4. Tulpa without personal attacks is like a river without water or a beach without sand.

                    5. So anyway did you get fired or layed off? And how long until you’re homeless?

                      “Tulpa without personal attacks”

                      Hey you stopped calling them Ad Hominems because you looked it up and realozed you were wrong!

                      Great job!

                    6. Tell us about your employment first. And being your mom’s pimp doesn’t count.

                    7. Anh I asked first and being your mom’s pimp is kinda boring.

                    8. Yes run away.

                    9. When my employment is your business I’ll be sure to share.

                    10. You already have, you got fired. Please, lie now.

                    11. Alright. Fine. I’ve been working for McDonalds for 35 years and I’m in the Guinness Book of Word Records for flipping the most burgers.

                      Oh, wait. That was someone I worked with when I was 15. Sorry to get your hopes up.

                      And that guy was a millionaire. I shit you not.

                    12. Stop talking about yourself.

                    13. No wonder you’ve been so stupid and spastic lately, you lostvyour job, you’re about to be homeless, you can’t afford your child support, fuck man you’re looking at jail time aren’t you?

                      At least that solves the homeless thing.

                    14. Good try, but you’re not getting that personal info out of me. Suffice it to say you’re wrong on every assumption.

                    15. Lol we can all see I’m exactly right, your butt hurt is utterly transparent lololol

                    16. Burden of proof is on you, oh cowardly Tulpa who chickened out at the opportunity to say all of this to my face. Everyone knows that’s why you refused my invitation. Because you’re afraid it would end with you in the hospital and me in jail. Which may or may not be true.

                    17. “sarcasmic
                      September.21.2020 at 2:54 pm
                      Burden of proof is on you, ”

                      lolwut?

                      Not after you spent this entire thread showing that I’m right!

                      lol “burden of proof” are you fucking retarded lolol

                    18. Everyone knows that’s why you refused my invitation

                      OMFG get over it I shot you down, really try to move on.

                      And then get a job. Before you end up in jail for missing your child support payments.

                    19. it would end with you in the hospital and me in jail. Which may or may not be true.

                      AHAHAHAHAHAH GETTING SUPER INTERNET TOUGH GUY MAD ABOUT LOSING YOUR JOB AAHAJAJAJJA

        2. and giving them 600 extra a week, and they still don’t pay rent?

          1. I’ve been waiting three months for unemployment benefits, so I don’t know anything about this $600 of which you speak.

            I can afford rent because I was saving money for a down payment on property and because I have credit cards. That money will run out.

            Meanwhile, I’ve been applying to jobs that wouldn’t require me to wear a mask because I can’t.

            However, I would pack up all my stuff and live in my car in the woods before staying somewhere rent free or risking the Scarlet Letter “E”.

        3. When they get 600 extra a week and still don’t pay, yes

            1. Which is why you’re so upset about losing your job! lol

              You gave it away!

              1. shhhh the adults are talking

                1. Don’t adults normally have jobs?

                  That means you’re out!

                  Everyone knows that’s why you refused my invitation

                  Everyone knows you bitch and cry at me because sour grapes.

    3. Mine wasn’t. Mine was a transfer payment to my local gun store.

      1. Me too. And when I said so JesseAz and the others piled on saying I’m poor. I don’t get it, other than them being assholes.

        1. Well you were lying.

    4. They were anti-revolution checks so we’d sit down and shut up while the “leaders” raided the treasury. Again.

      1. I don’t think adding zeros and pressing enter on a Federal Reserve system counts as “raiding the treasury.”

    5. ” transfer payments to landlords and mortgage companies.”

      If that is true then they ‘essentially’ kept a lot of people from living on the streets as well.

      Which is certainly of some benefit to them.

      1. If you like your house, you can keep your house. For one more month.

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  4. “We’ll have plenty of opportunity to decide in the years to come whether it was worth the inevitable comedown.”

    I think most Americans will blame whoever sits in office, and the fact that this “pandemic” was so fucking overblown. I would like to believe that we would reject every future lockdown request and forcibly remove any governor that proposes it. But unfortunately Americans have become too weak, uneducated, and too enamored of failed 20th century ideas like socialism to fight against a behemoth local, state and federal government beast. $10 trillion in spending is too much for anyone to ignore and it gives the worst of us license to abuse the population in order to keep it.

  5. every year there are multiple predictions of a crash and some day someone there will be a crash but will it because of of which prediction

    1. Well; Ron Paul and Peter Schiff pegged the 2009 Recession right after the “everyone gets a free house loan” bills went though congress.

  6. “Americans have become too weak, uneducated, and too enamored of failed 20th century ideas like socialism to fight against a behemoth local, state and federal government beast”

    The iron law of bureaucracies is that they grow until limited by outside constraints bankruptcy and competition; since governments are coercive monopolies, their only constraints are invasion and rebellion.

    The inevitable result is that people find it more profitable to turn to government to improve their lot in life, to sic government on competitors, whether businesses, neighbors, or relatives; whether to get more benefits and favors, or to build obstacles for them or remove their obstacles.

    People are pretty damned rational in what directly affects them for the short term. Just as free speech is meaningless to starving peasants, so is the long term meaningless to people under the thumb of their compatriots; all that matters is dealing with government.

    I bet that if you could convince people that cutting back 99% of government could actually be done fairly, leaving no room for corruption and cronies, most people would approve. But cutting back 1% or 10% at a time? No way, Jose! Because they know the cronies would still get theirs, and that is something up with which they will not put.

    1. Everyone want to cut government. Just not the part that benefits themselves, their friends, and their families. They want to cut what benefits the other guy. Thing is, politically this is an impossibility since literally everyone benefits, directly or indirectly, from federal spending. So there will be no cuts. Ever. Until the entire mess goes down the shitter.

      1. Which makes me wonder what will happen when the federal government fails. I imagine that, like the USSR, the States will turn into 50 independent countries. I also imagine that they will quickly go to war with each other. It’s gonna be a mess.

        1. There won’t be a war, but it will still be a mess.
          In the commie controlled states, wrong-think and self-defense will be outlawed and outlaws locked up (or worse).
          In conservative controlled states things will be slightly better, except for the commie rebels burning everything down when they don’t get their way.

          1. I dunno. You don’t think the broke states wouldn’t go on conquest for new tax revenue?

            1. “You don’t think the broke states wouldn’t go”

              lol you’re dumb

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      2. “everyone benefits, directly or indirectly, from federal spending”

        lol…. Right because every human resource comes from the federal government. /s.

        And somehow those people in 1950 made tractors that got better instead of worn-out with usage because the USD shows them worth more after 50-years of use than they were worth brand new.

        No matter what USD-amount game they play; they cannot create value they haven’t added.

        1. I mean that it’s impossible to not benefit from some subsidy or program. Whether you asked for or wanted it is a different question entirely.

          1. And since you lost your job you felt it first hand.

          2. I wouldn’t put the known reception of stolen goods in my ‘Benefits’ category; something about guilt and demoralizing of personal character worth.

  7. >>Here’s how the CBO characterizes …

    appeal to authority fallacy. T says everything will be fine.

    1. The national debt will never be paid off, ever! We are already over 200K per tax payer alone. 80k per person. 40-50% doesn’t have $400 in savings or something like that. Where the hell will 30,000,000,000,000 come from exactly? Add in unfunded liabilities and that debt bomb is just nuclear where the national debt will be the small explosion that detonates the rest of this fiscal kabuki dance.

      1. The main goal is to shake off entitled freeloaders. Just as soon as the greater populace embraces the reality that what one wants must be built or earned by themselves alone without gun-power stealing it from Peter to give to Paul; then we can successfully defeat the debt with good hard work, skill and ability (that will finally take their rightful place among-st deserved assets).

        Seems today; far too many citizens have learned to trash competency, skill and work (Oh, those horrible rich people who put bread on our tables) and embrace theft, undeserved entitlement and mob style take-overs.

  8. Why not just have Congress change the law, and we freeze spending for a year or two? The objection has been program increases are automatic. So why can’t Congress pass a law that says for a two year period, their term, there are no program spending increases.

    Two years of spending at this level is not unreasonable. I want cuts, but could we at least stop all increases?

    1. Because old people vote.
      And defense contractors hire lobbyists.

    2. With baseline budgeting, a spending freeze is considered to be a cut since the department expected a 3% increase. It’s Tony logic: not giving is taking and not taking is giving.

    3. Are you joking? While the Republicans don’t want to cut spending, they do sometimes want to cut the increase in spending and Democrats throw a fit

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  10. Not to mention all the small businesses that were destroyed by mostly peaceful state governors with their shutdown orders and mostly peaceful protesters with their arson and looting.

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  14. Biden’s tax hikes on the 1% would come nowhere near to paying some of the debt. That’s because they’re accompanied by even greater spending. And that’s presuming the tax revenue would come in as expected, and wouldn’t be hurt by those additional labor regulations he wants to latch on.

    So: If Trump wins, he may have a willingness to cut spending (which he’s shown during his first budget proposals). If Biden wins, his program made it clear that there will be no spending cuts. And the unpopular tax increases on middle income would be limited. Meaning, the effective tax increases would come through inflation.

  15. The CBO is preaching Keynesian nonsense here. The effect of the increased borrowing will be to make it more expensive for the government to borrow money not the private sector. Whenever the bill for all of this comes due, the effect will be to force draconian cuts in government spending. The CBO being Keynesian idiots thinks that would be the end of the world for the economy. Instead, it would be the end of the world for big government. The economy, not so much.

    1. I was going to post something thoughtful about the Fed printing money and buying debt at the same time, ask about what bill since the debt is dispersed amongst bond holders, and ask how any cuts could be politically feasible, but because you’ve become such a fucking cock lately I’ll simply say fuck you I don’t like you anymore and if I bought you a beer I’d spit in it.

      1. “I was going to post something thoughtful”

        AHAHAHAHAHHA SURE YOU WERE!!!

        1. My shits are more thoughtful than anything you ever posted.

          1. sarcasmic
            September.21.2020 at 2:14 pm
            Stop talking about yourself

            sarcasmic
            September.21.2020 at 1:51 pm
            Third grade playground taunts? You’re moving up in the world!

            lol

    2. Right now the government can borrow at 0.5% interest, which doesn’t make a lot of sense.

  16. The point at which we should have stopped has long since passed. Why not just keep going and see what happens?

    1. Do we have a choice?

      1. If voting mattered do you really think they’d let us do it?

  17. Everyone just Chillax… The rich and the powerful are safe and sound. Indeed, they are doing better than ever before. That should be enough. The rest of us working schmucks should just shut up, bite the bullet and do our patriotic duty to eat whatever crow is coming our way.

  18. My economy hit a water buffalo. Can I put it on the Underhill’s tab?

  19. Just for the record, the stock market, gold prices, and oil are all falling today–largely attributable to the chances for further stimulus bleeding away and dying.

    “Sentiment has soured in September, with investors saying they are growing uneasy about the outlook for the U.S. economy as the prospect of an additional fiscal-stimulus package looks increasingly remote ahead of a heated U.S. election campaign season.

    “The odds of us getting a stimulus package before the election are probably as close to zero as we are going to get,” said Jim Tierney, chief investment officer for concentrated U.S. growth at AllianceBernstein. “The stocks that needed stimulus are getting hit hard today.”

    —-WSJ, September 21, 2020

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/global-stock-markets-dow-update-9-21-2020-11600681496?

    It’s great to see Reason jump on the Republican bandwagon. After all, if it weren’t for President Trump and the Republicans, the House Democrats’ $3.5 trillion in stimulus would already be law.

    It’s time for California, Illinois, and New York to start actually laying off government employees–rather than posturing about what they’ll be forced to do if Washington doesn’t send them our money.

    1. Or investors are starting to figure out the hit on corporate earnings and their own tax rates in the event of a Biden victory,

    2. California should have let 40% of their state employees go back in March, since state revenues are down that much. (A lot of high income people working from home, and all the sales tax on my Home Depot purchases kept the 60% coming in.) But they were all deemed essential, and only had to take a 10% paycut.

      1. Nancy Pelosi passed a bill to send the states $1 trillion in bailouts.

        All they needed was for the Senate and the President to sign off on it–five weeks before an election!

        Betting on Republicans to flush their principles down the toilet to spend themselves to reelection used to be a no-brainer. It’s almost like they’re different now. I certainly didn’t expect them to hold out this long.

        But the Democrats won’t impose layoffs ahead of an election if they can help it. They need those organizers. They need those votes. If the political machine lays you off ahead of an election, you don’t make sure you go out and vote for the political machine out of loyalty. At that point, your loyalty is shot.

        De Blasio faulted the federal and state governments for not doing more to ease the financial burden on cities like his.

        “Here we are, in the middle of September. I couldn’t have imagined no action by Washington, D.C., up to this point,” de Blasio said, adding that he took it as an “article of faith” that a second federal stimulus package would have arrived by now.

        “There hasn’t been, and I see no indication there will be for the remainder of this year,” the mayor added.

        . . . .

        New York City has already cut $7 billion from the budget that was projected in February, de Blasio’s office said in a statement about the furlough plan. As it looks for ways to trim more spending, the mayor’s office says the city is working with labor groups to find ways to prevent layoffs.

        —-NPR

        https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2020/09/16/913659765/new-york-city-mayor-announces-a-furlough-week-as-city-faces-shortfall

        That’s the sound of the government getting smaller.

        If we reelect Trump and the Republicans in the Senate, they’ll get even smaller still. The first thing the Democrats will do if Biden is elected is bail out the states. They care more about feeding their political machine than they do about global warming or social justice, that’s for sure.

        1. The Democrats talk about defunding the police.

          The Republicans are actually doing it!

  20. Every time we’ve been threatened with actual deflation the balloon has instead been further inflated.

    What makes anyone think that is going to change?

    Don’t bet on a crash, bet on hyperinflation.

    1. “hyperinflation” – that’s where my prediction would live especially after seeing used auction items sell for more than what they cost last year brand new. Everyone got their fake money to spend.

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  24. The founders would do the proverbial spinning in their graves if they knew that taxpayer money was going toward buying corporate bonds. Especially when said corporations have ample assets to put on the line as collateral to sell said bonds

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