Ahead of the Bell: US budget deficit

CBO forecasts US government ran surplus of $51 billion in June, leaving lower deficit for 2015

Associated Press
US budget deficit drops to $82.4 billion in May
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FILE - In this May 19, 2015, file photo, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, accompanied by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, speaks during a Financial Stability Oversight Council meeting at the Treasury Department in Washington. The Treasury Department releases federal budget data for May on Wednesday, June 10, 2015. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Treasury Department releases federal budget data for June at 2 p.m. Eastern on Monday.

JUNE SURPLUS: The Congressional Budget Office is predicting the government ran a surplus of $51 billion in June, which would be $20 billion lower than the surplus recorded in June 2014.

LOWER DEFICIT: Through the first nine months of this budget year, the CBO is forecasting a deficit of $314 billion, $52 billion lower than the actual deficit of $366 billion recorded in the first nine months of the 2014 budget year. That would be 14.2 percent narrower than the same period a year ago.

The federal government's budget year begins on Oct. 1 and ends on Sept. 31.

For all of the 2015 budget year, the CBO is projecting a deficit of $486 billion, little changed from last year's deficit of $483.4 billion.

The 2014 deficit was down from $680.2 billion in 2013, far removed from the four consecutive years in the wake of the recession, when the U.S. ran annual deficits topping $1 trillion.

Those deficits drove the national debt higher. It currently stands at $18.1 trillion, right below the current debt limit. Since March, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew has been making a series of maneuvers to keep the government operating without going over the mandatory limit, while appealing to Congress to raise the borrowing limit.

Private economists have estimated that Lew can continue operating this way until October or November when the government will face the prospect of an unprecedented default on the national debt if the debt limit is not raised.

Republicans control both the House and Senate and more conservative GOP lawmakers would like to use need to raise the borrowing limit as leverage to force President Barack Obama to change his policies in such areas as health insurance and immigration.

While some GOP leaders have said they do not favor using the threat of a default as leverage, it is not entirely clear that both sides will be able to bridge the wide differences that exist. In addition to a potential default on the debt, the government could also face the prospect of another government shutdown if Congress fails to pass a budget at the start of October when the new budget year begins.

It was a standoff over the debt limit in August 2011 that prompted the first-ever downgrade of the nation's credit rating by Standard & Poor's and in October 2013.

The dispute set off a 16-day partial government shutdown.

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