The U.S. federal budget deficit soared to 569 billion dollars in the first four months of the current fiscal year, the highest on record for this period, the Treasury Department reported on Wednesday.
The deficit for October 2008 through January 2009 was six times more than the red ink during the year-ago period and has already surpassed the imbalance for all of last year, which was 454.8 billion dollars, a full-year record, Xinhua reported.
In the first four months, the government's revenues totaled 773. 5 billion dollars, down by 10.2 percent from the year-ago period, reflecting weaker corporate tax revenues and falling individual tax payments as a result of a deepening recession.
Government spending over the period, however, shot up by 41.3 percent from a year ago to 1.34 trillion dollars. Much of that surge reflected massive costs for the financial bailout package the Congress approved last October.
For January alone, the federal budget deficit totaled 83.8 billion dollars, in contrast to a surplus of 17.8 billion dollars in the same month last year. Economists had been expecting a smaller imbalance of 78 billion dollars.
The Congressional Budget Office has projected that the federal budget deficit will hit an all-time high of 1.2 trillion dollars in the current fiscal year, which ends on Sept. 30, 2009.
The estimate doesn't include the cost of a huge economic stimulus bill that U.S. President-elect Barack Obama is seeking approval from Congress.
House and Senate negotiators on Wednesday agreed to pare the cost of the bill to 789 billion dollars, smaller than the Senate's 838 billion dollars bill approved on Tuesday and an 819 billion dollars version of the legislation passed last month by the House.
Private economists estimate that the budget deficit for this current fiscal year will hit 1.6 trillion dollars.
In the 2007 fiscal year, the federal budget deficit dropped by 34.4 percent to 162 billion dollars, a five-year low since an imbalance of 159 billion dollars in 2002, reflecting faster growth in government revenues than spending.
The 2002 performance marked the first budget deficit after four consecutive years of budget surpluses.