CBO: Budget deficit estimated at $845B

WASHINGTON (AP) — The federal budget deficit will drop below $1 trillion for the first time in President Barack Obama’s tenure in office, a new report said Tuesday.

The Congressional Budget Office analysis said the government will run a $845 billion deficit this year, a modest improvement compared to last year’s $1.1 trillion shortfall but still enough red ink to require the government to borrow 24 cents of every dollar it spends.

The agency projected that the economy will grow just 1.4 percent this year if $85 billion in across-the-board spending cuts take effect as scheduled March 1. Unemployment would average 8 percent. Obama wants to ease the cuts by replacing them with new tax revenue and alternative cuts, but a clash is looming with Republicans who insist last month’s tax increase on wealthier earners will be the last tax hike they permit.

The report predicted the deficit would dip to $430 billion by 2015, the lowest since the government posted a $459 billion deficit is former President George W. Bush’s last year in office. That would be a relatively low 2.4 percent when measured against the size of the economy.

But as more and more baby boomers retire and claim Medicare and Social Security and as Obama’s health care law takes effect, deficits would move higher and again reach near $1 trillion in the latter portion of the 10-year window — despite the recently enacted tax increase on family income exceeding $450,000 and automatic spending cuts of about $100 billion a year. The package of spending cuts and tax increases are punishment for Washington’s failure to strike a long-term budget pact.

“We need to continue working to cut spending responsibly, protect and strengthen programs like Medicare, and raise revenue by closing tax loopholes that the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations take advantage of,” said Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray, D-Wash.

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