Federal deficit to reach $1 trillion for fifth straight year

The federal government will flirt with its fifth-straight trillion-dollar deficit next year and is still on track to notch $25 billion in debt within a decade, the Obama administration predicted on Friday as it released an update of the country’s fiscal picture.

Spending in 2012 is actually running at a slower pace than the White House predicted in February, but will still reach $1.2 trillion — a fourth straight year. And the deficit for 2013 is now projected to be $991 billion, which is nearly 10 percent deeper than President Obama predicted in February when he sent his budget to Congress.

In a report, the White House said the deeper deficits next year are because taxes are running lower than expected and because some of the president’s stimulus payments have been pushed off until 2013.

The deficit in 2008, President George W. Bush’s last full year in office, was $459 billion — which was then a record. In 2009, which covered the last four months of Mr. Bush’s term and the first eight months of Mr. Obama’s term, the deficit ballooned to $1.4 trillion as the government coped with the Wall Street crisis.

Since then, deficits have remained stubbornly high, totaling $1.3 trillion in 2010 and 2011 and projected to reach $1.2 trillion this year.

The White House found some good news in the numbers, saying that over the next decade the deficit will be $240 billion lower. And the White House said the deficit is still on track to drop under $600 billion by 2017 — though it never goes lower than $543 billion in any year.

Across that full decade the country will rack up deficits of $6.4 trillion.

Jeffrey Zeints, Mr. Obama’s acting budget director, blamed Republicans for a sluggish economy he said is hurting the fiscal picture — but he said they still are counting on their policies to be enacted.

“Enactment of some of the president’s proposals to promote near-term economic and job growth in the face of such headwinds has been delayed by Republicans in Congress,” he said in a memo accompanying the budget update.

Sen. Jeff Sessions, the ranking Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, said the White House report is bleak, and undercuts Mr. Obama’s own campaign promises of paying down the debt.

“President Obama is currently running a campaign ad saying he has a plan to ‘pay down the debt in a balanced way,’” Mr. Sessions said. “But his updated budget — submitted two weeks after the legal deadline — reveals just how dramatically false this claim is. These ads ought to be pulled down.”

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