Posted: 2:13 pm Thursday, December 13th, 2018
By Jamie Dupree
After starting the 2019 fiscal year with $100 billion in red ink, Uncle Sam added more than double that in the month of November, as the Treasury Department reported Thursday that the federal government ran a deficit last month of $204.9 billion, leaving the deficit at over $300 billion just two months into the new fiscal year.
“The deficit has never been this high when the economy was this strong,” said the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a watchdog group which has repeatedly complained about the lack of action in Congress and the White House about rising deficits.
“Rarely have deficits risen when the economy is booming. And never in modern U.S. history have deficits been so high outside of a war or recession,” the group said on Thursday.
Compared to a year ago, the deficit for October and November of 2018 was $104 billion more than in 2017. White House budget experts have predicted the 2019 deficit could come close to $1 trillion, the highest since 2012.
November Treasury deficit $204.9 billion vs deficit of $138.5 billion prior
— Michael Underhill (@M_D_Underhill) December 13, 2018
Looking at November 2018 and November 2017, revenues were down slightly from a year ago, as the feds brought in almost $206 billion last month, compared to $208 billion in 2017.
Spending was up sharply, at almost $411 billion in November, compared to $347 billion a year ago.
One area where more revenue came in to the feds in November was in tariffs and customs duties, as Uncle Sam took in $5.5 billion; that figure was $3.2 billion a year ago.
But even if those numbers continue up – as President Trump has predicted with his aggressive trade actions – it won’t come close to filling a growing tide of red ink.
The latest estimates from the Congressional Budget Office are close to what the White House has been predicting – a budget deficit which will come close to $1 trillion this year – but the CBO believes the deficit will go over $1 trillion after that, for a number of years.
In a new report released hours before the updated deficit figures, the CBO again offered up a number of options to reduce the deficit, making the case that something must change.
“Since 2007, federal debt held by the public has more than doubled in relation to the size of the economy, and it will keep growing significantly if the large annual budget deficits projected under current law come to pass,” the CBO wrote.
But there has been little appetite in recent years among Republicans in the Congress to make dramatic changes – either in spending or revenues to change the direction of the deficit.