Deficit Averaged $110 Billion Per Month So Far in 2011

By Matt Cover | August 12, 2011 | 6:00 AM EDT

President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks in Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2011, after the Senate passed the debt ceiling legislation. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

( – The federal deficit averaged $110 billion per month through the first 10 months of fiscal year 2011, according to the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) latest budget review.

The figure comes from the CBO’s monthly budget review, which tracks federal spending and revenue levels as they come in. The most recent review, released Aug. 5, showed that through July the federal deficit was $1.1 trillion – averaging out to $110 billion per month over the 10 months since October 2010 – the start of fiscal year 2011. (Fiscal year 2011 began on Oct. 1, 2010 and ends on Sept. 30, 2011.)

That figure is down slightly from last year’s $1.2 trillion 10-month deficit, due mainly to increased tax revenue and lower-than-expected federal outlays.

“The federal budget deficit was about $1.1 trillion in the first 10 months of fiscal year 2011, CBO estimates—$66 billion less than the roughly $1.2 trillion deficit incurred through July 2010. Revenues were about 8 percent higher than they were at the same point last year, whereas outlays rose by less than 3 percent,” the CBO said.

In fact, the average 10-month deficit obscures the real July deficit, which was higher than the $110 billion average at $132 billion. That deficit was roughly $33 billion less than last year’s July deficit, but was caused mostly by deferred government payments.

Those deferred government payments were most likely the result of the financial maneuvering required to avoid hitting the debt ceiling over the summer, before Congress raised it in August.

“Much of that difference occurred because there were shifts in the timing of certain payments in 2010; adjusted for those shifts, the deficit in July 2011 was $4 billion less than the shortfall in July 2010,” stated the CBO.

Tax receipts edged up in July, largely because tax refunds were smaller, meaning that the government got to keep more money than it usually does, approximately $3 billion worth, according to CBO. Income tax withholdings were also higher than normal – by about $1 billion – reflecting an increase in incomes.

Overall, the government spent $75 billion more through July 2011 than it did over the same 10-month period last year. Absent the deferred spending and that $75 billion more accounted for a 1.9 percent increase in spending so far in fiscal year 2011.

That increase was driven by a combination of higher entitlement spending, higher interest payments, and the continuing costs of the TARP bailout program, the CBO reported.