Given that the press, including the Associated Press (aka the Administration’s Press), virtually ignored the fact (shown here) that the federal government’s deficit of $231.7 billion in February was an all-time single-month record, I expect that the following item, when officially released, will also get the media silent treatment.
Today, in its totally misnamed Monthly Budget Review (misnamed because there has been no federal budget for over three years), the Congressional (We Don’t Have a) Budget office estimated that March’s deficit will be $196 billion. If correct, it will be the third straight month of year-over-year deficit increases. But that’s not the big news, as will be seen in the graphic which follows:
The real news is the spending number of $368 billion. It’s an all-time record, and not by a small margin. It’s $28-plus billion (8.6%) higher than the previous record of $339 billion in March 2011.
Oh, the CBO has a ready explanation for this, and it’s legitimate:
Outlays were $29 billion higher this March than they were in the same month last year, mostly because about $31 billion in payments that would ordinarily be made in April were instead made in March this year (as April 1 was a Sunday). In addition, revisions to the estimated cost of several credit programs—mostly the Troubled Asset Relief Program—added $7 billion to spending this March compared with outlays last March. Absent those effects, outlays would have been $9 billion less in March 2012 than in March 2011.
That doesn’t change the fact that it’s a record, and an extremely dubious achievement.
It would be nice to be wrong in my prediction about how the establishment press will treat this, but I don’t expect to be. Pleasantly surprise us for once, folks.
Even after “correcting” for the timing point the CBO made, the year-to-date deficit is only about $45 billion lower than last year. If the second half is a repeat performance, fiscal 2012′s deficit will be $1.2 trillion, barely an improvement from the past three years.
I’m still not confident that the country can avoid hitting a financial wall between now and November, or now and January 20, 2013.