- The Washington Times - Friday, October 7, 2011

The federal deficit reached $1.3 trillion for fiscal 2011, according to the preliminary estimate Friday from the Congressional Budget Office, matching last year’s total despite all sides’ agreement on the need to cut spending.

And the $64 billion deficit for the month of September meant the government has been in the red for 36 straight months — a record streak that means the government hasn’t had a monthly surplus since near the end of President George W. Bush’s term. The previous long streak on record was just 11 months.

Official deficit figures will be released later this month by the Treasury Department, but the CBO does its own preliminary analysis every year.

CBO officials said federal spending totaled a record $3.6 trillion in 2011, which is up $144 billion over 2010. Tax revenues, meanwhile, were up $141 billion, to total $2.3 trillion for the year.

Revenue from income taxes showed the biggest jump, at 21.6 percent, while corporate tax revenues dropped, as did payroll taxes — due in part to the payroll tax cut President Obama and Congress agreed to at the end of 2010.

The biggest increase in spending category came in interest on the debt, which rose 16.7 percent, “primarily because of the large increase in the government’s debt during the past year,” CBO said.

Meanwhile, defense spending grew by just 1.2 percent — a major change from the previous five years, when it averaged 7 percent growth each year.

Other basic discretionary domestic spending actually fell by 2.1 percent, suggesting the cuts Congress and Mr. Obama agreed to in April are having some effect.

Still, the entitlement programs both sides have been wary of touching continued to rise: Social Security spending grew by 3.5 percent, while Medicare grew by 3.9 percent. Medicaid spending grew only slightly.

The fiscal year ended Sept. 30.

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