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CBO Speaks: Deficit Slightly Smaller, Still Huge

In what has to be one of this week's worst excuses for good news, the Congressional Budget Office announced that the federal budget deficit for FY2006 was “only” $250 billion, down from last year's $318 billion. Actually, let's look at that again: the number of deficit-spent dollars last fiscal year was 250,000,000,000. That'll buy you a lot of House page uniforms. The White House had issued a February prediction of $423,000,000,000, and then went on to claim repeated victory on the deficit in the intervening months as they revised their numbers down and closer to reality. Reuters politely describes the original OMB estimate as having been “thought to be unrealistically high by many experts.” Even if you can manage to define the government overspending by a quarter of a trillion dollars in a single year as “good news,” don't break out the champagne just yet. CBO is now predicting fiscal year deficits growing to $286 billion for the current fiscal year and to $328 billion by fiscal 2010.