US posts first budget surplus since 2008


Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner departs a briefing at the Treasury Department in Washington, DC. The Treasury Department announced on May 10, 2012, that the US government had posted its first monthly surplus in April since September 2008, a surplus of $59.1 billion.


Win McNamee

The US government took in more money than it spent in April, posting a surplus for the first time in nearly four years, said the Treasury Department on Thursday, according to the Associated Press.

The surplus, which amounts to $59.1 billion, was the first surplus posted under the Obama administration, and the AP noted that this is not unusual for April, when annual tax returns are due.

The last time the government posted a monthly surplus was in September 2008, noted CNN Money. The financial crisis that hit right around that time and the subsequent recession and slow recovery led lawmakers to pass tax cuts of at least $2 trillion since 2008.

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The Wall Street Journal noted that the surplus may also have been larger due to April 1 falling on a Sunday and payments falling on that day being scheduled for March. The revenue from taxes was $318.8 billion, still behind April 2008, when taxes yielded 403.8 billion.

Despite the surplus, the Congressional Budget Office forecasts that the deficit will hit $1.17 trillion for the 2012 budget year, not a marked improvement on last year's $1.3 trillion deficit, according to the AP.

The Bipartisan Policy Center estimates that government borrowing will hit the debt ceiling of $16.394 trillion between November 2012 and January 2013, according to CNN Money.

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The Obama administration has been trying to make the case during his re-election campaign that the US is making progress, despite the recovery being slow and uneven.

Bloomberg suggested that budget and spending clashes between the president and House Republicans may lead to a government shutdown in before the November elections, unless lawmakers reach a compromise to keep agencies functioning in the 2013 fiscal year, which starts Oct. 1.

Earlier in the year, Republicans rejected Obama's $3.8 trillion budget plan, stating that it did not do enough to reduce the deficit or boost economic growth, according to Bloomberg.

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