Ahead of the Bell: US budget deficit

Monthly budget deficit for January expected to be higher than year ago

Associated Press
US budget deficit running 6.2 percent higher than last year
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FILE - In this June 26, 2014 file photo, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew speaks at the 5th Annual Making Home Affordable Summit at the Treasury Department in Washington. The Treasury Department releases federal budget data for January on Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2015. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Treasury Department releases federal budget data for January. The report will be issued Wednesday at 2 p.m. Eastern.

DEFICIT UP: The Congressional Budget Office expects the federal deficit for January will total $19 billion, up from a $10.3 billion deficit in January 2014. Part of that change will reflect calendar quirks that shifted some benefit payments into January that normally would have been paid in February, according to the CBO.

SPENDING AND RECEIPTS UP: The CBO expects the deficit for the first four months of this budget year, which began Oct. 1, will total $195 billion, an increase of 6.6 percent from the same period a year ago.

However, CBO says it still expects the deficit for the full year to show an improvement over 2014, dropping to $468 billion. That would be down 3.1 percent from the $483 deficit recorded last year.

The 2014 deficit was the lowest imbalance since 2008 when the government recorded a $458.6 billion deficit. Over the next four years the deficit soared above $1 trillion annually as government receipts plummeted in a deep recession that threw millions out of work and required the U.S to fund surging unemployment benefits and food stamps.

Last week, President Barack Obama unveiled his new budget proposal. In that measure, he projects that the deficit in 2015 will rise to $583 billion, sharply higher than the CBO's latest estimate. Obama's new budget is asking Congress for authorization to spend $4 trillion next year and projects a deficit for 2016 of $474 billion.

The president's budget proposal will set off months of wrangling in Congress. Obama proposed increasing taxes on the wealthy to increase funding to rebuild America's aging roads and bridges, while providing two years of free community college to qualified students. The new taxing structure is also intended to trim future deficits to what the administration said would be manageable levels.

Republicans immediately attacked the proposal for failing to tackle rising government spending on benefit programs such as Social Security and Medicare. GOP lawmakers said the budgets they put together in coming weeks will eliminate the deficits over the next decade.

The CBO is forecasting that the deficit will narrow again in 2016 but will the rise for the rest of the decade, climbing above $1 trillion in 2025 as a rising tide of baby boomer retirements push up the costs of Social Security and Medicare.

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