WASHINGTON — The federal government ran a slightly smaller deficit in February than a year ago but the imbalance through the first five months of the budget year is still running ahead of last year.
The Treasury Department reported Thursday that the deficit in February was $192.3 billion, down from a deficit of $193.5 billion a year ago. For the first five months of this budget year, the deficit totals $386.5 billion, up 2.7 percent from a deficit of $376.4 billion during the first five months of the 2014 budget year.
For the entire budget year, which ends Sept. 30, the Congressional Budget Office is forecasting a deficit of $486 billion, up 0.6 percent from the 2014 deficit of $483.4 billion. The 2014 deficit was the smallest annual imbalance in six years.
Through the first five months of the budget year, revenues total $1.19 trillion, up 7.1 percent from the same period a year ago, while outlays total $1.57 trillion, also up 7 percent from a year ago.
The 2014 deficit was down from $680.2 billion in 2013. Before 2013, the nation recorded four straight years of deficits topping $1 trillion annually, reflecting the impact of a severe financial crisis and the worst economic downturn since the Great Recession of the 1930s.
President Barack Obama last month unveiled a new budget proposal which projects the 2015 deficit will rise to $583 billion, sharply higher than CBO's estimate for this year. Obama is asking Congress for authorization to spend $4 trillion next year and projects a deficit in 2016 of $474 billion.
The CBO released an analysis of Obama's budget proposal on Thursday that said that White House policies, if enacted into law, would reduce deficits by $1.2 trillion over the coming decade — less than the $2.2 trillion claimed by the administration. It also estimated that the deficit for 2016 would actually fall to $380 billion if Obama's proposals on spending and taxes were adopted by Congress.
Later in the decade, CBO assumes larger deficits than does the White House. It assumes deficits will total about $300 billion more over the 10-year span than does the White House, whose budget office uses different "baseline" estimates of spending and revenues than CBO. Generally, the White House budget office has higher estimates of economic growth and tax revenues than CBO.
The president's budget plan proposes increasing taxes on the wealthy and using the extra income to rebuild America's aging roads and bridges. It also seeks to provide two years of free community college to qualified students and to trim future deficits to what the administration says would be manageable levels.
But Republicans, who now control both the House and the Senate, have attacked Obama's plan for raising taxes and failing to tackle rising costs for the government's biggest benefit programs, Social Security and Medicare.
GOP lawmakers have pledged that the budgets they put together in coming weeks will eliminate deficits over the next decade.
Associated Press Budget Writer Andrew Taylor contributed to this report.
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