Finance says federal deficit hits nearly $69B over first half of fiscal year

× Finance says federal deficit hits nearly $69B over first half of fiscal year

The US federal deficit hit nearly $69 billion over the first half of the current fiscal year, according to latest figures from the Treasury Department.

The figure compares to a surplus of $20.1 billion during the same time period in 2017. But it does not take into account any emergency government spending approved as a result of the twin government shutdowns this spring.

The gap is about $53 billion higher than the Congressional Budget Office’s forecast for the same period in 2018. Still, since the economy is growing, the deficit is projected to shrink in the second half of the year.

Last month, the Treasury said the budget deficit in the first quarter of the fiscal year reached a record $305 billion, about 25% higher than the same period in 2017.

The government’s size has been a central topic of debate in the upcoming midterm elections. Many Republicans argue that the federal deficit is a consequence of the Trump administration’s decision to slash taxes and to devote record amounts of federal spending to defense and domestic programs, especially to push through the GOP’s massive tax cut package.

Democrats, however, have seized on the starkly different budget outlook as a point of difference with President Donald Trump and his Republican colleagues. They argue that while tax cuts are helping the economy, they also make budget deficits look worse than they are.

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