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Wall Street Journal / Biz - Money

U.S. Had $108 Billion Budget Deficit in August, Treasury Says

The U.S. government ran a $108 billion budget deficit in August ahead of a late September deadline for Congress to raise the federal borrowing limit and authorize new spending to keep the government open.

By

Kate Davidson

WASHINGTON—The U.S. government ran a $108 billion budget deficit in August ahead of a late September deadline for Congress to raise the federal borrowing limit and authorize new spending to keep the government open.

Federal government outlays last month totaled $334 billion, exceeding $226 billion in total receipts, the Treasury Department said Wednesday. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office had predicted a $109 billion deficit for August.

The monthly deficit was slightly higher than a $107 billion budget gap in August 2016. CBO attributed the slightly larger gap to lower remittances from the Federal Reserve, and a decline in income and payroll tax withholding.

During the first 11 months of the fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, the budget deficit was $674 billion, about 9% larger than the same period last year. Revenues increased 2% during that time, but spending increased more, rising about 3%.

More broadly, declining government revenues and long-term costs associated with an aging population, including higher Social Security and Medicare spending, are expected to continue pushing up the deficit.

Federal debt recently crossed the $20 trillion threshold, after Congress voted to suspend the debt ceiling for three months and allow Treasury to once again borrow to pay for previously authorized spending. Lawmakers also struck a deal to fund the government through Dec. 8 to avoid a government shutdown next month.

CBO said in June it expects the deficit to rise to $693 billion in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, or 3.6% of gross domestic product, much higher than its estimates at the start of the calendar year. But it said last week the number could come in lower because the government usually runs a surplus in September, when many businesses and individuals make quarterly tax payments.

Write to Kate Davidson at kate.davidson@wsj.com

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