The federal government ran a deficit in December, marking the 39th straight month in the red, according to preliminary estimates Monday by the Congressional Budget Office, continuing a streak that dates back to the last days of President George W. Bush and encompasses President Obama’s entire term.
And in a bad sign, December’s deficit of $84 billion was slightly worse than the deficit in December 2010, reversing a trend that had seen a slightly improved picture over the previous few months.
Spending was up by $8 billion in December compared with the previous year, though when adjusted for weekend and holiday payments, the comparable figure comes to $3 billion.
Payments to housing finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which needed another infusion of cash last month, accounted for much of the growth in spending, while Medicaid and unemployment benefit payments fell.
Corporate income tax receipts were up, while payroll tax receipts were down thanks to the tax cut Congress and Mr. Obama had agreed to a year earlier. Last month, the two sides struck a deal to extend that tax cut for two months into 2012.
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