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US Budget Deficit Surges to Highest Level in 6 Years

It hit $779B in fiscal 2018
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 15, 2018 2:47 PM CDT
In this June 2, 2018 file photo, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin speaks at a news conference during a meeting for the G7 Finance and Central Bank Governors in Whistler, British Columbia.   (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press via AP, File)

(Newser) – The federal budget deficit has surged to $779 billion in fiscal 2018, its highest level in six years as President Trump's tax cuts caused the government to borrow more heavily in order to cover its spending. The Treasury Department said Monday that the deficit climbed $113 billion from fiscal 2017, the AP reports. Debt will likely worsen in the coming years with the Trump administration expecting the deficit to top $1 trillion in 2019, nearly matching the $1.1 trillion imbalance from 2012. The deficit worsened because tax revenues are not keeping pace with government spending. The government's fiscal year runs from October to September, unlike calendar years that begin in January. Tax revenues were essentially flat in fiscal 2018, while spending increased 3.2% as Congress gave more funds for military and domestic programs.

Revenues generally tumbled after December when Trump signed into law $1.5 trillion of tax cuts over the next decade. The tax cuts have caused economic growth to accelerate this year with Federal Reserve officials anticipating gains of 3.1%. But the Trump administration initially promised that the tax cuts would pay for themselves through stronger growth—and there is no sign so far of that happening. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin suggested in a statement that the underlying source of the widening deficit was growth in government spending, rather than the tax cuts. "Going forward the President's economic policies that have stimulated strong economic growth, combined with proposals to cut wasteful spending, will lead America toward a sustainable financial path," Mnuchin said. But William Gale, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, noted that the tax cuts are unlikely to generate a long-term bump in economic growth. (Social Security recipients are getting their largest raise in years.)


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