US deficit exceeds $1 trillion for 3d year

By Martin Crutsinger
Associated Press / August 11, 2011

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WASHINGTON - The US budget deficit has topped $1 trillion for a third straight year, underlying the pressure Congress and the White House face to make more progress on a long-term plan to shrink the imbalance.

The Treasury Department said yesterday that the deficit through July totaled $1.1 trillion. Three years ago, that would have been a record high for the full year.

This year’s deficit is on pace to exceed last year’s imbalance of $1.29 trillion. But it is likely to fall short of the record $1.41 trillion set in 2009.

For the first 10 months of the budget year, spending has risen 2.4 percent while revenue has climbed 8 percent. That is a sign that more people are working and paying taxes, although unemployment remains high at 9.1 percent.

Record deficits have forced President Obama and Congress to create a 12-member committee of lawmakers that will seek to reduce the red ink over the next decade by $1.5 trillion. If the panel cannot agree on a plan by Thanksgiving, severe across-the-board spending cuts would go into effect automatically.

The committee was a key part of a deal forged last week to boost the country’s borrowing limit. The first stage of the deal would cut spending by $917 billion over 10 years.

Before 2009, the deficit had never come close to $1 trillion in a single year.

The government last recorded a budget surplus in 2001, when revenues were $127 billion greater than spending.

But the country was back in the red by 2002.