Is a $113 Billion Government Deficit in July Actually Good?

Print Email

Is it even remotely possible that a government deficit of $113 billion in a single month can be construed as good news? Apparently so, at least on a relative basis. The United States government turned in a $112.8 billion deficit for the month of July. It looks crazy on the surface, but this is actually narrower than the $149 billion deficit reported for July of 2015.

This hardly seems like good news. Unfortunately, finding those who care about financial nuisances like deficit is becoming harder and harder these days.

Year-to-date, the government’s deficit is up 10.3% to $513.7 billion after looking at tax receipts and outlays. Much of the issue is of course the timing of payments and the timing of receipts, which may be understating the deficit at closer to 20%.

Total outlays were $323 billion versus $210 billion in total receipts in July.

So far for Fiscal Year 2016, the deficit of $514 billion is based upon income of $2.679 trillion and total spending of $3.192 trillion. For the year, this was broken down in spending as follows:

  • Defense $486 billion
  • Social Security $763 billion
  • Medicare $471 billion
  • Interest on Debt $231 billion
  • “Other” at $1.241 trillion

A look further into the Budget statement showed $887.753 billion year-to-date spent on the Department of Health and Human Services and a total of $809.53 billion total through the Social Security Administration. These were different in the summary bullet and the detailed figures in the financial tables later in the report.

The higher number from last July was partly due to an accelerated $42 billion in August’s benefits payments being moved forward into July.

It is hard to find much great news these days in budgeting and deficits. Maybe less-bad will have to do for now.

The US Debt Clock was last seen at $19.42 trillion. In a world of negative interest rates abroad and a promise of higher deficits from both parties, are we left to wonder if deficits will ever matter again?