By Jeannine Aversa
The Associated Press
WASHINGTON - The government's deficit ballooned to $326.6 billion in the first nine months of the 2004 budget year, according to a snapshot of U.S. balance sheets released Tuesday.
That's more than 20 percent larger than the $269.7 billion shortfall for the corresponding period last year.
For the current budget year which began Oct. 1, this spending has totaled $1.73 trillion, 6.4 percent more than the same period a year ago. Revenues came to $1.40 trillion, 3.5 percent more than the previous year.
So far this year, the biggest spending categories are programs from the Health and Human Services Department, including Medicare and Medicaid, $407.1 billion; Social Security, $397 billion; military, $322.3 billion, and interest on the public debt, $274.9 billion.
On the revenue side, individual income tax payments came to $596.4 billion for the first nine months of the 2004 budget year, 1.4 percent less than the corresponding period a year ago.
Corporate income tax payments, however, totaled $140.3 billion so far this year, nearly a 44 percent increase. The Congressional Budget Office says a little more than half of that increase stemmed from rising tax collections as the economic recovery has grown deeper roots.
With a stronger economy expected to help boost overall revenues, some private economists believe the budget shortfall for this year may be about $450 billion. That would be better than earlier projections but would still set a record in dollar terms.
The government produced a record $374 billion deficit last year.
The Congressional Budget Office has said this year's budget deficit is expected to be less than the $477 billion shortfall the office projected in March. The White House is expected to lower its forecast from the $521 billion deficit projected for this year.
In June, the government recorded a surplus of $19.1 billion, smaller than the $21.2 billion surplus for the same month last year. The surplus in June was based on revenues of $214.4 billion and spending of $195.2 billion.
Auto incentives may be best ever*
Credit rating can alter incentive
Concrete shortage begins to harden
$1.5B tax write-off by Delta
GEAE market best since pre-Sept. 11
Pierre Foods sold to investor group
Locally, more fingers do the walking to florists
Deficit up 20 percent over 2003
Whistleblower claims stay alive in lawsuit
Discount retailer headed this way
Small raises next 2 years, surveys say
After year of hits, Disney struggles
Tristate business summary