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$119.2 billion sets monthly budget deficit record

A record amount of spending in February pushed the government’s budget deficit to the highest level ever for a single month, the Treasury Department reported Friday.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Record spending in February pushed the federal deficit to the highest level ever for a single month.

The government had a budget deficit of $119.2 billion after having run a surplus in the two previous months, the Treasury Department said Friday.

That reflected a big jump in outlays, which totaled a record $232.1 billion last month, surpassing the old record for spending of $230.9 billion set in December.

Spending normally increases sharply in February, a month when the government is mailing out tax refund checks to early filers.

“You have a lot of refunds going out at this point in the tax filing season,” said Treasury spokeswoman Brookly McLaughlin. She said that taxpayers who owe money to the government tend to wait until closer to the April 15 deadline to file their returns.

Government revenue totaled $112.9 billion in February, up 11.8 percent from February 2005.

The old monthly deficit record of $113.9 billion was set in February 2005.

For the first five months of the current budget year, revenues totaled $873.1 billion, an increase of 10.5 percent over revenue collections during the same period a year ago.

Spending during this period totaled $1.09 trillion, an increase of 7.6 percent from the same period a year ago.

The Bush administration is forecasting that the budget deficit for the 2006 budget year, which will end Sept. 31, will hit a record $423 billion, surpassing the old mark, in dollar terms, of $413 billion set in 2004.

However, private forecasters believe the actual deficit this year will be below the administration’s February forecast.

In the first five months of the budget year that began on Oct. 1, the deficit totals $217.6 billion, an improvement of 2.6 percent over the deficit of $223.4 billion run up during the first five months of the 2005 budget year. The total deficit last year was $319 billion, the third largest on record.

Spending this year is expected to be pushed higher by the costs of fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and rebuilding along the hurricane-devastated Gulf Coast.