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4 Items of Interest in CBO’s Monthly Budget Review

Monday, May 7, 2018

Washington, D.C.– The U.S. government ran its largest April surplus on record last month, BPC’s analysis of a new Congressional Budget Office report shows. While CBO’s monthly budget review, released today, confirms that the U.S. government’s fiscal position continues to deteriorate, it elevates some potential bright spots in economic growth.

“Last month’s strong tax collections are partly a reflection of the robust expansion of the U.S. economy in 2017. This further confirms what previous indicators have shown,” Shai Akabas, BPC director of economic policy, said.

The following are four items of interest that BPC experts found in CBO’s report:

  • So far this year, the federal government has run an average deficit of $55 billion per month, $5 billion per month more than last year.
  • In April, outlays rose by $24 billion compared to last year. In early signs of an ominous trend, interest payments made up the largest portion of that increase.
  • The spending increase, however, was more than offset by a $59 billion increase in receipts compared to last April. Individual income tax collections were particularly strong, while corporate receipts lagged, perhaps affected by the recent tax legislation.
  • The federal government almost always takes in more money than it sends out in April because of tax collections, but this year’s monthly surplus was an extraordinary $218 billion, the highest on record for April. 

CBO’s broader report, the Budget and Economic Outlook, released last month, projected the total Fiscal Year 2018 U.S. deficit would reach $804 billion.

“While the monthly figures were a positive uptick, they are only a blip on the radar of a longer trajectory. Congress can’t afford to fall asleep at the wheel while deficits approach record levels – expected to top $1 trillion next year for the first time since the Great Recession –  and interest payments on the federal debt double or even triple,” Akabas said.

BPC’s economic team today is launching the Deficit Tracker, which shows current deficit growth and compares it to recent history based on CBO’s monthly budget releases. It will be updated every month.

KEYWORDS: CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE, SHAI AKABAS