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The federal government ran an estimated budget deficit of $486 billion in fiscal year 2014, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) announced Wednesday -- $195 billion less than the shortfall recorded in fiscal year 2013, and the smallest deficit recorded since 2008.

Relative to the size of the economy, that deficit—at an estimated 2.8 percent of gross domestic product (GDP)—was slightly below the average experienced over the past 40 years, and 2014 was the fifth consecutive year in which the deficit declined as a percentage of GDP since peaking at 9.8 percent in 2009.

For an Obama White House that’s faced difficult headlines in recent months – on ISIS, Ebola, the conflict in Eastern Ukraine – this is welcome news, especially on a subject that was a key Republican talking point during the 2012 presidential contest.