US Budget deficit hits record level

A record amount of spending in February pushed the United States government’s Budget deficit to the highest level to date for a single month, the Treasury Department reported on Friday.

The government had a record monthly deficit of $119,2-billion in February after having run a monthly surplus in the two previous months, the Treasury said in its Budget report.

The deficit reflected a big jump in outlays, which totalled a record $232,1-billion last month. Spending normally increases sharply in February, a month when the government is mailing out tax-refund cheques.

Government revenue totalled $112,9-billion in February, up by 11,8% from February 2005.

For the first five months of the current Budget year, revenues totalled $873,1-billion, an increase of 10,5% over revenue collections during the same period a year ago.

Spending during this period totalled $1,09-trillion, an increase of 7,6% from the same period a year ago.

The Bush administration is forecasting that the Budget deficit for the 2006 Budget year, which will end on September 31, will hit a record $423-billion, surpassing the old mark, in dollar terms, of $413-billion set in 2004.

However, private forecasters believe the actual deficit this year will be below the administration’s February forecast.

In the first five months of the Budget year that began on October 1, the deficit totals $217,6-billion, an improvement of 2,6% over the deficit of $223,4-billion run up during the first five months of the 2005 Budget year. The total deficit last year was $319-billion, the third largest on record.

Spending this year is expected to be pushed higher by the costs of fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and rebuilding along the hurricane-devastated Gulf Coast. — Sapa-AP

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