Washington The government, raising cash to pay for the array of financial rescue packages, said Monday it plans to borrow $550 billion in the last three months of this year - and that's just a down payment.
Treasury Department officials also projected the government would need to borrow $368 billion more in the first three months of 2009, meaning the next president will confront an ocean of red ink.
The nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Budget estimates all the government economic and rescue initiatives, starting with the $168 billion in stimulus checks issued earlier this year, total even more - an eye-popping $2.6 trillion.
One day before voters set out to elect the 44th president, new economic reports brought more bad news.
The widely watched Institute of Supply Management gauge of manufacturing activity plunged in October to its lowest level since the country's last deep recession, the 1981-82 downturn.
The Commerce Department's report on construction spending Monday showed a 0.3 percent decline in September, the third drop in the past four months.
"We are now deep in the belly of the recession beast," said Bernard Baumohl, managing director of the Economic Outlook Group.
The government reported last week that the overall economy, as measured by the gross domestic product, shrank at an annual rate of 0.3 percent in the July-to-September quarter. Two straight quarters of lower GDP generally mean a recession, and many economists expect the fourth quarter to be worse than the third.
In addition to the borrowing numbers, Treasury released estimates by major Wall Street bond firms projecting that total borrowing for this budget year, which began Oct. 1, will total $1.4 trillion, nearly double the previous record.
Major Wall Street firms were equally pessimistic about the size of the federal deficit this year. They projected it will hit $988 billion for the current budget year, more than twice the record. In July, the administration projected a deficit for this year of $482 billion, but that was before the financial crisis erupted in September.