Budget office puts virus relief bill cost at $1.8 trillion

Apr 16, 2020

The massive coronavirus relief bill passed virtually unanimously by Congress last month is estimated at costing taxpayers $1.8 trillion — slightly less than was projected at the time by the White House

WASHINGTON (AP) — The massive coronavirus relief bill passed virtually unanimously by Congress last month is estimated at costing taxpayers $1.8 trillion — slightly less than the $2.2 trillion informally projected at the time by the White House.

That’s according to the Congressional Budget Office, which says the difference is due to scorekeeping on $454 billion provided to back trillions of dollars in guaranteed loans by a Federal Reserve emergency lending facility, which won’t have a deficit impact since the income and costs stemming from that lending are expected to offset each other.

The CBO report comes as Washington is manuevering over replenishing a popular “paycheck protection” program with another $250 billion.

Most of the federal deficit impacts of the $1.8 trillion coronavirus relief act would come in the 2020 budget year ending Sept. 30, with the legislation projected to add $1.6 trillion to that year's deficit tally. The deficit for 2020 was already heading well above $1 trillion and is certain to shatter the previous record of $1.4 trillion recorded by the Obama administration in the aftermath of the Great Recession of more than a decade ago.

The recently-passed measure contains $377 billion for the paycheck subsidy program, $293 billion for $1,200 direct payments to most Americans, $150 billion for state and local governments, and $268 billion for more generous unemployment benefits, among other costs.

The CARES legislation is by far the largest of three coronavirus relief bills passed this year.

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