WASHINGTON (AP) - The federal deficit was lower through the first four months of the budget year than the same period last year. Still, the deficit is expected to top $1 trillion for the fourth year in a row, putting more pressure on Congress and President Barack Obama in an election year.
The deficit totaled $349 billion through January, the Treasury Department said Friday. That's $70 billion less than at the same point last year. January's monthly deficit was $27 billion, down from $50 billion in January 2011.
Most of the drop was due to several accounting changes. The biggest resulted in some benefit payments being made in December rather than January.
Still, the Congressional Budget Office, a nonpartisan agency, forecast last week that the budget gap will be nearly $1.1 trillion in budget year 2012, which began Oct. 1. While lower than last year's $1.3 trillion imbalance, it would be higher than any previous deficit before fiscal year 2009.
The government ran an all-time record deficit of $1.41 trillion in fiscal 2009, and a $1.29 trillion imbalance in 2010.
This year's deficit is running lower because of higher corporate tax receipts, the department said. That has boosted government revenue to $790 billion from October through January.
Spending fell to $1.14 trillion in the same period, though excluding the accounting changes it was largely flat.