Put together, the spending dwarfs any previous U.S. government program — even the New Deal.

The latest COVID-19 relief package is much smaller than most Democrats wanted, and is less than half the size of the CARES Act that was passed earlier this year.
Yes, but: Put the two together, and the amount of stimulus passed by Congress in 2020 would dwarf any previous U.S. government spending program even the New Deal.
Why it matters: President Trump’s suggestion that he might not sign the bill without changes throws the whole package into doubt.

  • But even if that gets resolved, Team Biden has made it clear that they want massive new rounds of stimulus in 2021, directing money to state and local governments as well as executing on their promises to “build back better” with a multi-trillion-dollar investment program.
  • All of that spending would come on top of $2.9 trillion of stimulus passed in 2020 an amount equivalent to a whopping 14.5% of GDP.

The big picture: Before this year, America’s largest-ever spending program was Barack Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act which clocked in at just over $1 trillion, in today’s money.

  • On a per-capita basis, or as a percentage of GDP, the record was held by Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal of 1933-35, which spent about $6,680 of today’s dollars for every living American. That amounted to 12.6% of GDP at the time.
  • Both records could be smashed this year, with stimulus so far totaling some $8,845 per American. And if Biden gets his way, there’s a lot more to come.