If you’re wary of Congress pulling out its credit card one more time, the news this past week was mostly bad. Not all bad, but mostly.

Washington is focused on “phase four” of emergency funding tied to the pandemic. Democrats who control the U.S. House have proposed $3 trillion more. Senate Republicans appear to be working on a bill that costs “only” $1 trillion, which means that’s the floor as negotiations continue. The ultimate figure will likely land somewhere in between.

At the risk of numbing your mind – and making this seem like Monopoly money – some context is in order.

Before the pandemic, federal spending in the 2020 budget year was forecast to be about $4.8 trillion. That would have set a record, even when adjusting past figures for inflation. The deficit was to surpass $1 trillion, and that was when everyone thought we had a strong economy that couldn’t be derailed.

In recent months, Congress has already spent $2.4 trillion in emergency funding. That’s equal to half of an entire year of running the whole federal government: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, various welfare programs, the military, veterans’ programs, new infrastructure – all of it.

Now we are talking about perhaps doubling that relief spending, which in turn could mean doubling all federal spending in one year. The deficit? There’s no telling how many trillions that will be, considering the way tax revenues have also been hit.

And there’s reason to think all of this spending is making matters worse in some ways. One point of contention is how much more than usual to pay the unemployed. Not whether to pay more than usual, but how much more.

Many business owners have lamented their inability to bring back laid-off employees who make more money with enhanced jobless benefits than if they went back to work. Those enhanced benefits are set to expire at the end of July, but there seems to be little appetite for returning to normal unemployment benefits. It’s just a matter of how enhanced they remain.

If you’ve made it through this many depressing words, I feel I owe you a ray of hope. Here’s one.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, one shortsighted aspect of the largest relief bill to date, the CARES Act, is that it handcuffed state and local governments’ ability to spend funds allocated to them as they see fit. They were only allowed to spend the money on expenses related to the pandemic, but the bill’s appropriations far surpassed those expenses.

The Senate Republicans’ “phase four” plan reportedly includes much greater flexibility for state and local governments to use that money, including to replace revenue lost because of the recession caused by the pandemic.

More flexibility is good news. What’s the value of that flexibility? Let’s go through a few more very large numbers.

In Georgia, the Kemp administration reports spending about $880 million to fight the coronavirus through June 30, which was the end of the last budget year. About 40 percent of that was to go to local governments for their costs.

Yet, the CARES Act alone devoted some $4.1 billion to our state government, about $600 million of which was to be passed on to the very largest local governments. That’s on top of hundreds of millions more for k-12 schools, colleges and universities, hospitals, transit agencies and other emergency-fund recipients.

It’s not clear the entire difference between that $4.1 billion from the CARES Act and the $880 million already spent (which comes out to about $3.2 billion) is now available for whatever use Gov. Brian Kemp and the General Assembly want. There will surely be more pandemic-related expenses. Still, it’s quite possible we could see a great many of those newly flexible funds made available to offset some of the $2.2 billion legislators cut from the state budget for the year that began July 1.

That flexibility would be worth a lot, enough that Congress could slow down the spending spree – for a while, at least.

• Kyle Wingfield is president and CEO of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation: www.georgiapolicy.org.