WASHINGTON -- The White House said yesterday that the federal budget deficit for the current fiscal year will shrink to $759 billion. That's more than $200 billion less than the administration predicted just three months ago.
The new figures reflect additional revenue generated by the improving economy and take into account automatic, across-the-board spending cuts that the White House had hoped to avert.
The White House projected that economic growth would be slightly slower in the coming years than it forecast in April. The report said the automatic spending cuts that kicked in during March will slow down economic growth this year from the 2.6 percent increase it forecast for the fourth quarter of this year to a 2.4 percent increase.
But the White House sees a slightly rosier jobs picture. It projects that unemployment will average 7 percent next year and reach 6.8 percent in the final quarter of 2014. That's an improvement over the 7.2 percent unemployment it forecast in April as an average for 2014.
The 2013 budget year ending Sept. 30 will be the first one of Obama's presidency in which the deficit won't exceed $1 trillion. Obama inherited a struggling economy and record deficits. A 2011 deficit-cutting deal with Republicans has pared deficits somewhat, as did a tax hike enacted earlier this year on upper-bracket earners.
But Obama has remained at odds with Republicans over cutting benefit programs and further tax increases. The improving deficit picture seems to have taken away some of the momentum for an additional deficit-cutting bargain, but the issue may be rejoined this fall when Obama and Congress need to enact an increase in the nation's $16.7 trillion borrowing limit to avoid an economy-rattling default on the government's obligations. -- AP