U.S. budget deficit hits $234 billion, a new monthly record

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WASHINGTON — The US logged its biggest monthly fiscal gap ever last month.

The budget widened to $234 billion in February, the Treasury Department announced on Friday, compared with a monthly shortfall of $215.2 billion a year earlier.

Last month’s budget gap helped push the US government’s budget deficit up 39% to $544 billion for the first five months of the fiscal year as federal spending ballooned and revenue mostly stayed the same.

The widening budget gap comes as President Donald Trump’s $1.5 trillion tax cut

package has weighed on tax receipts and raised concerns about the country’s rising debt, which stands at more than $22 trillion.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell warned earlier this week that “deficits matter,” saying the country’s fiscal stance need to be addressed.

This month’s budget report was delayed by a week due to the 35-day partial government shutdown, which ended in January.

The federal government spending on health programs and defense rose 9% to $1.8 trillion for October to February period, while revenues from taxes and elsewhere fell less than 1% to $1.28 trillion.

Deficits typically spike in February, because that’s when Treasury begins to send out tax refunds to individuals and corporations.

Treasury said that part of the reason the deficit rose was due to the timing of certain payments.

Agriculture and transportation programs were big drivers of spending in February, which rose 24% and 32%, respectively, compared to the same period last year.

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