Obama administration: Budget deficit increases to $587B
WASHINGTON>> The government ran a $587 billion budget deficit for the just-completed fiscal year, a 34 percent spike over last year after significant improvement from the record deficits of President Barack Obama’s first years in office.
Friday’s deficit news, while sobering, does not appear bad enough to jolt a gridlocked Washington into action to stem the flow of red ink. It came in an annual report by the Treasury Department and the White House budget office.
In the presidential campaign, intractable budget deficits and growing debt have been mostly neglected by Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump.
The latest figures show that the government is borrowing 15 cents of every dollar it spends. Government spending went up almost 5 percent to $3.9 trillion in fiscal 2016, but revenues stayed flat at $3.3 trillion.
Obama came to power after the 2008 financial crisis and as the economy was still emerging from a deep recession, and the deficit spiked to $1.4 trillion, which required Treasury to borrow 40 cents for every dollar spent by the government. It remained above $1 trillion for three more years before declining to $439 billion last year as the U.S. economy continues to slowly grow.
“The Obama Administration’s agenda has spurred durable economic growth and the longest streak of job growth on record, while sharply reducing the deficit to a sustainable level,” said Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said in a statement. “We have built a solid foundation for continued investment in economic growth and opportunity for all, while maintaining fiscal discipline and using fiscal space appropriately to grow the economy.”
Now, the Congressional Budget Office is predicting deficits will, more or less, remain in the $600 billion range for the next several years. Those are eyepopping numbers to the average person, but they represent about 3 percent of the size of the economy, a level many economists say is bearable.
Trump is promising tax cuts estimated to cost $6 trillion or so in the coming decade and has criticized congressional Republicans, including House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, for proposing to cut Medicare and other government programs. Clinton promises to increase taxes on the wealthy and spend the money on college tuition subsidies, infrastructure and expansion of President Barack Obama’s health care law.
“There’s no leadership on the campaign trail. What both Clinton and Trump have said, essen-