Federal share of economy soaring

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The government's spending surge to ease the financial crisis and a worsening recession is increasing the federal share of the nation's economic activity close to $1 out of every $4, the highest level since World War II, an analysis of current and projected payments shows.

Emergency rescue plans for financial institutions and increased benefits for needy individuals are mounting, as Congress considers President-elect Barack Obama's call for a massive public works program that could exceed $500 billion and a $14 billion bailout of the auto industry.

All that spending will push the federal share of the nation's $14.4 trillion economy to 25% or more — past the post-World War II record of 23.5% set in 1983, at the end of what was then the worst recession since the Depression.

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