Year-to-date deficit stands at $388.5 billion; string of deficits reaches 15 months
By Robert Schroeder, MarketWatch
WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — The U.S. government ran a budget deficit of $91.8 billion in December, marking the 15th straight month in which outlays exceeded receipts, the Treasury Department reported Wednesday.
The December figures bring to $388.5 billion the deficit for the first three months of Washington’s 2010 fiscal year.
That’s on top of a staggering $1.4 trillion budget shortfall for fiscal 2009, more than three times the size of the deficit that the government ran in 2008.
The federal deficit for December 2008 was $51.7 billion.
With President Barack Obama under increasing pressure to cut the deficit, the White House is scheduled to unveil his budget for fiscal 2011 next month.
Among other things, Obama is considering charging banks a fee to recoup taxpayer funds used to bail out the financial industry. That money could be used to help pay down the deficit.
The government was still spending money in December to bail out banks, but not nearly as much as a year earlier. A total of $3.9 billion was spent on the Troubled Asset Relief Program last month, the figures showed.
Receipts were $219 billion in December, the Treasury reported, while outlays were $311 billion.
A year ago in December, receipts were $238 billion. Outlays were $289.5 billion.
With U.S. unemployment stuck at 10%, Obama also must contend with a growing chorus of calls to create jobs — but without adding to the deficit. Unemployment is shaping up as a key issue for voters as lawmakers prepare for mid-term congressional elections in November.
Earlier this month, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the December deficit would come in at $92 billion. The nonpartisan agency also estimated that the deficit was about $390 billion for the first quarter of fiscal 2010. Read CBO monthly budget review.
The federal government’s fiscal 2011 starts on Oct. 1.
Robert Schroeder is a reporter for MarketWatch in Washington.