Federal Taxpayer Costs of COVID-19 Response

COVID-19 AnalysisFederal Taxpayer Costs of COVID-19 Response

Budget & Tax,  | Analysis
May 15, 2020  | 3 min read | Print Article

Are you looking for a quick summary of just how much money is involved in the federal response to the COVID-19 pandemic?

The short answer is that Congress passed four deficit-financed bills to respond to the health crisis and prevent the pandemic from damaging the U.S. economy. In total, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the four bills are projected to increase the federal deficit by $2.4 trillion. The largest deficit-financed bill in response to the COVID-19 pandemic was the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), which unleashed $1.7 trillion toward disaster relief for industries, governments, and individuals affected by the pandemic.

The longer answer is the list below, which breaks out the numbers in each bill.

Legislative Actions – Impact on the Federal Deficit

  • CV1 – March 6, 2020 – H.R. 6074 (P.L. 116-123) Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2020 (CRS) – (CBO) = $8.2 billion
    • Division A – $7.8 ($7.767 billion) in discretionary emergency spending
    • Division B – $490 million in mandatory (Medicare telehealth)
  • CV2 – March 18, 2020 – H.R. 6201 (P.L. 116-127) 2nd FY2020 Coronavirus Supplemental Appropriations Act (CBO) = $192 billion
    • $2.407 billion in discretionary Emergency spending
    • $95 billion in mandatory outlays
    • $94 billion of decreased revenue
  • CV3 – March 27, 2020 – H.R. 748 (P.L. 116-136) CARES Act (CBO) = $1.7 trillion
    • $326 billion in discretionary Emergency spending
    • $988 billion in mandatory outlays
    • $408 billion of decreased in revenues
    • **Authorizes $454 billion to fund Federal Reserve emergency lending facilities; costs and revenues expected to offset, resulting in no net change to the deficit**
  • CV3.5 – April 24, 2020 – H.R. 266 (P.L. 116-139) Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act (CBO) = $483 billion
    • Division A – $321.3 billion in mandatory (Paycheck Protection Program)
    • Division B – $162.1 billion in discretionary Emergency spending

Total increase in deficit = $2.405 trillion

Deficit Projection pre-COVID-19 legislation – March 2020 CBO Baseline (based on January Economic Outlook)

  • FY20:  $1.073 trillion
  • FY21:  $1.002 trillion
  • 10 Year (FY21-FY30): $13.091 trillion

Total Deficit FY2020 – CBO Budget Update April 24, 2020

  •  FY20 = $3.7 trillion
    • This $3.7 trillion is the current estimate after accounting for the negative economic impacts of the pandemic, which occurred after CBO finalized its economic outlook in January, and the impacts of the four supplemental responses adopted thus far. CBO expects to publish a more detailed, and further updated baseline, later this year. 

Potential Future Costs

To see TCS’ analysis of each bill go to our ongoing coverage of the stimulus packages and industry trackers.

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