The federal government borrowed 46 cents of every dollar it has spent so far in fiscal 2013, which began Oct. 1, according to the latest data the Congressional Budget Office released Friday.
The government notched a $172 billion deficit in November, and is already nearly $300 billion in the hole through the first two months of fiscal year 2013, underscoring just how deep the government’s budget problems are as lawmakers try to negotiate a year-end deal to avoid a budgetary “fiscal cliff.”
Higher spending on mandatory items such as Social Security, Medicare and interest on the debt led the way in boosting spending compared with the previous year, which also highlights the trouble spots Congress and President Obama are struggling to grapple with.
All sides agreed to discretionary spending cuts and automatic spending cuts last year, but have been unable to agree on ways to control entitlement costs, which are the long-term drivers of deficits and debt.
Fiscal year 2013 began on Oct. 1 and so far the government has spent $638 billion and taken in just $346 billion in revenue.
That tax revenue is up by $30 billion compared with last year, or about 10 percent.
But spending is up even more — a staggering $87 billion, or 14 percent. The CBO said much of that higher spending total is due to timing of payments month-to-month. Without those shifts, spending would be up $22 billion, or 4 percent.
Overall, CBO analysts said that, accounting for shifts in both revenue and spending, the deficit would be $8 billion lower this year than it was last year at this time.
The agency, Congress’s nonpartisan budget scorekeeper, releases preliminary estimates of the government’s fiscal position each month. Final figures will come later this month from the Treasury Department.
The government is poised to post another $1 trillion deficit in fiscal year 2013, which would mark the fifth straight year. Before that, the record was $438 billion, which came in 2008, President George W. Bush’s last full year in office.
Congress and the White House are trying to hash out a long-term fiscal framework that could lead to higher taxes and limits on future spending.
• Stephen Dinan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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