Government deficit soars to $984B, highest in years: Treasury

The government budget deficit approached $1 trillion for the year but fell short of the predicted amount, according to the U.S. Treasury Department.

The deficit hit $984 billion in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, up by more than $200 billion compared to a year earlier, Treasury officials said in their monthly report. The government brought in $3.5 trillion, but spent $4.4 trillion. It's the highest deficit in seven years, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

The deficit accounted for 4.6 percent of the gross domestic product, officials said. That was up by 0.8 of a percentage point from the year before.

Higher spending on Medicare, Social Security, defense and debt interest contributed to the increased deficit, officials said.

Social Security accounted for more than $1 trillion in government outlays. The government spent $688 billion on national defense. Medicare was the third-highest expense at $651 billion, followed by $585 billion on health, $515 billion for income security and $376 billion in net interest.

Earlier this year, the White House Office of Management and Budget had forecast a $1 trillion deficit for the year. So the deficit was $16 billion less than officials had predicted.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a press release that lawmakers should enact proposals like President Trump’s 2020 budget plan “to cut wasteful and irresponsible spending.”

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin speaks to reporters outside the West Wing of the White House in Washington, Monday, Sept. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

“President Trump’s economic agenda is working: the nation is experiencing the lowest unemployment rate in nearly 50 years, there are more jobs to fill than there are job seekers and Americans are experiencing sustained year-over-year wage increases,” Mnuchin said.

President Trump had promised to eliminate the nation’s debt during the 2016 campaign.

The national debt has increased by more than $3 trillion since the end of 2016. It is currently more than $22 trillion, according to Treasury data.

Russ Vought, acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, said, “Americans from all walks of life are flourishing again thanks to pro-growth policies enacted by this administration.”