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 user 2003-12-29 at 10:24:00 am Views: 39
  • #4369
    Deficit Swells to Nearly $43B in November

    WASHINGTON (AP) -The deficit swelled to nearly $43 billion in November, giving the country its second straight monthly red-ink ledger.

    At the start of the new budget year in October, the government was $69.5 billion in the hole as spending grew faster than revenues. In November, the Treasury Department reported Friday, spending totaled $161.2 billion and revenues came to $118.2 billion, thus producing the shortfall.

    Still, November’s deficit was $15.9 billion less than the $58.9 billion deficit posted for the same month last year, and was slightly smaller than the $44 billion shortfall that the Congressional Budget office was projecting.

    For the 2003 budget year, which ended Sept. 30, the government recorded a deficit of $374.8 billion, according to revised figures. That was up slightly from the $374.3 billion previously estimated. Under either figure, the 2003 deficit was a record in dollar terms, surpassing the previous $290 billion record set in 1992. The 2004 budget year started on Oct. 1.

    The White House’s budget chief has said red ink could exceed $500 billion in the current budget year, even as the economy strengthens.

    The Bush administration has blamed the swelling deficits on the costs of the war in Iraq, fighting terrorism at home and until recently the lingering economic weakness from the 2001 recession. Democrats, however, say a major cause of the red ink has been President Bush’s tax cuts and what they contend are bad economic policies.

    In the first two months of the 2004 budget year, the government ran up a deficit of $112.5 billion based on revenues of $254 billion and spending of $366.5 billion. The year-to-date deficit is slightly smaller than the $112.9 billion deficit produced during the corresponding period last year.

    So far this budget year, the biggest spending categories were: Social Security, $85.1 billion; programs of the Health and Human Services Department, including Medicare and Medicaid, $84.5 billion; military, $67 billion; and interest on the public debt, $32.6 billion.