Treasury: U.S. steams toward $1 trillion budget deficit

Martin Crutsinger
The Associated Press

WASHINGTON – The U.S. budget deficit through the first four months of this budget year is up 19% from the same period a year ago, putting the country on track to record its first $1 trillion deficit since 2012.

The Treasury Department said Wednesday in its monthly budget report that the deficit from October through January was $389.2 billion, up $78.9 billion from the same period last year.

The deficit reflected government spending that has grown 10.3% this budget year while revenues were up only 6.1%. For January, the deficit totaled $32.6 billion, compared to a surplus a year ago of $8.68 billion.

President Donald Trump sent Congress a new budget blueprint on Monday that projects the deficit will top $1 trillion this year but then will decline over the next decade.

The Congressional Budget Office, however, is projecting that the deficit will top $1 trillion this year and remain above $1 trillion over the next decade.

The actual deficit for the 2019 budget year, which ended Sept. 30, was $984.4 billion, up 26% from the 2018 imbalance. The rising deficits reflect the impact of the $1.5 trillion tax cut Trump pushed through Congress in 2017 and increased spending for military and domestic programs that the president has accepted as part of a budget deal with Democrats.

In his new budget plan for the 2021 fiscal year that starts on Oct. 1, Trump is proposing spending $4.8 trillion but would seek to hold down deficits by making cuts to domestic programs including food stamps and Medicaid.

Trump’s plan projects that if Congress goes along with his spending cuts, which is highly unlikely, the budget would return to balance in 15 years.

Through the first four months of this budget year, government spending has totaled a record $1.57 trillion, up 10.3% from the same period last year. Revenues also set a record for the first four months of a budget year, increasing by 6.1% to $1.18 trillion.

The government first ran $1 trillion deficits from 2009 through 2012 as revenues fell during the worst recession since the 1930s. Spending increased for safety-net programs such as unemployment benefits and to rescue banks and auto companies following the 2008 financial crisis.