Federal Deficit Now 77 Percent Higher Than a Year Ago

March 6, 2019 by Dan McCue

The Treasury Department reported Tuesday that the federal deficit for the first four months of the current fiscal year is 77 percent higher than the same period a year ago.

Since the fiscal year began on October 1, 2018, the deficit has ballooned to $310.3 billion — up from a deficit of $175.7 billion for the same time period a year ago.

The department said the higher deficit reflects the fact the government is collecting less money in taxes due to the sweeping, $1.5 billion tax cut pushed through Congress in 2017, while at the same time spending more on items like Social Security and defense.

According to the monthly budget report, which was delayed by the government shutdown, receipts fell by 2 percent to $1.1 trillion, while spending rose 9 percent to $1.4 trillion.

Tax revenue for October 2018 through January 2019 fell by $19 billion, Treasury said.

Meanwhile corporate tax payments over the first four months of the fiscal year dropped from $75.5 billion to $58.9 billion.

Tuesday’s report did show a substantial increase in customs duties, which nearly doubled to $25 billion, primarily due to White House tariffs on Chinese imports.

In a statement posted on Twitter, the Blue Dog Coalition of House Democrats said today’s report on the deficit shows Congress “can’t continue to kick the can down the road when it comes to addressing our nation’s exploding deficit and ever-growing debt. Now, it’s more important than ever that we put forward a budget that is fiscally responsible and upholds our shared values.”

In January, the coalition protected the bipartisan Pay-As-You-Go (PAYGO) rule, which requires Congress to pay for new priorities when it passes them in order to avoid handing down the bill to future generations.

“This was a step in the right direction to prevent the debt from getting worse,” the coalition’s tweet said. “Democrats have been able to produce landmark legislation that also abides by PAYGO. One example is the Affordable Care Act, which allowed 20 million Americans to gain access to health care—many for the first time. In summary, it is indeed possible to attain our shared goals, move our country forward, and be fiscally responsible. These characteristics are not mutually exclusive, and the Blue Dogs are ready to lead the way to demonstrate that.”

Last October, Donald Trump ended his first full fiscal year as president with a budget deficit of about $782 billion, the largest shortfall since 2012 when the country was first showing sustained signs of recovery from the 2008 global financial crisis.

The Congressional Budget Office, a non-partisan federal agency, forecast earlier this year that the deficit in the fiscal year through September 2019 could widen to $897 billion, up by $118 billion from a year earlier.

 

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