WASHINGTON - The federal deficit is running sharply lower than last year even though spending in August set an all-time high, the government reported Thursday.
The Treasury Department said that the deficit through the first 11 months of this budget year totaled $274.4 billion, down 9.8 percent from the same period a year ago.
Analysts believe the deficit for all of 2007 will actually be even lower because they are forecasting a sizable surplus in the final month, reflecting in part timing issues that caused about $44 billion in Social Security and Medicare payments that normally would have been made in September to be shifted into August.
The Congressional Budget Office is forecasting that when this budget year wraps up on Sept. 30, the deficit will total $158 billion, down by 36.2 percent from last year's $248.2 billion deficit.
The government's books have been helped this year by record flows of tax receipts, which have continued even though economic growth has been reduced by a serious slump in housing.
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