The federal government began fiscal 2013 continuing its path from fiscal 2012 — deeply in the red, with a $120 billion deficit for October, the Treasury Department said Tuesday.
That figure suggests that in 2013, the U.S. government will run a trillion-dollar deficit for the fifth straight year. In fiscal 2012, which ended Sept. 30, the federal government’s revenue came up $1.1 trillion short of its spending.
In October, the government took in $184.3 billion but spent $304.3 billion, leading to the $120 billion deficit. That marks a sharp increase in spending compared to October 2011, when the government paid out $261.5 billion, and ran a deficit of $98.5 billion.
That deficit underscores just how difficult it will be for Congress to head off the “fiscal cliff.” The deficit for October alone is larger than the yearlong cuts of $110 billion, due Jan. 2 under last year’s debt deal.
With the Senate stalemated, Congress has not passed a budget in three years, leaving entitlement programs growing on autopilot and doing little to bring in more revenue.
The government is projected to raise $2.8 trillion in revenue this year, but likely will spend $3.8 trillion.
Tax rates have remained low when measured as a percentage of the economy, while spending remains above its historic average.
It has been more than a decade since the government ran a yearly surplus, and analysts say none is likely any time soon, as the nation’s population ages and begins to put more demand on government-sponsored services for the elderly.
As of late last week, the federal government was $16.245 trillion in debt, up from $10.627 trillion when President Obama took office, and up from $5.728 trillion when President George W. Bush was inaugurated.