The U.S. government posted a budget deficit in March that is markedly higher than a year ago, as government spending outpaced revenue for the month.
The budget deficit hit $176.2 billion in March, up from $108 billion the same month last year. The year-to-date deficit is $527 billion, up 14.7 percent from the $479 billion budget deficit in March 2016. Total government revenue fell by 5 percent in March, down to $217 billion from $393 billion in the same month of 2016.
A large part of the deficit increase is due to government officials’ decision to shift $42 billion in benefit payments due in April to March. While shifting some of the payments to March might sound troublesome, Justin Bogie, a senior policy analyst at The Heritage Foundation, says the bigger problem is the overall trend of rising deficits.
The timing shift “isn’t all that concerning as timing shifts happen from time to time,” Bogie told The Daily Caller News Foundation. What is more concerning is that “even when you take out that $42 billion,” the 2017 budget deficit is “still outpacing last year’s deficit by about $25 billion year to date and this month’s total is higher than forecasts.”
Bogie warns the real concern is whether the trend continues. “CBO projected in January that the overall deficit would be smaller this year than last year. At this rate, it does not look like that would be the case. Ultimately, this highlights the bigger problem,” Bogie told TheDCNF. “Regardless of whether or not this is an accounting irregularity, we’re still going to be running a significant deficit this year and CBO projects that they will rise sharply over by the end of the next decade.”
The term budget deficit describes a situation in which total expenditures exceed total revenue. The government budget deficit is often conflated with the national debt. The national debt refers to the total outstanding liabilities of the government.
To mitigate the deficit problem, “Congress should be taking action to reduce spending and tackle entitlement reform so that we can eventually balance the budget and begin to stabilize the national debt,” Bogie told TheDCNF.
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