CBO Monthly Budget Review, September 2010

Last Thursday, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released their last Monthly Budget Review (MBR) for the fiscal year. So how much debt did Uncle Sam rack up in 2010, you ask. Well, just under $1.3 trillion. This figure is $50 billion less than what CBO projected just last month and is "$125 billion less than the shortfall recorded in 2009." Everyone say, "Hooray" for deficit reduction.

Congressional Budget Office

Mainstream media had a field day with this year's final deficit numbers. News outlets seemed to like to point out that the budget deficit "is likely to be close to 10 percent of gross domestic product," or, as CBO Director Doug Elmendorf mentioned in his blog, that relative "to the size of the economy, the 2010 deficit was the second-highest shortfall – and 2009 the highest – since 1945."

Fewer commentators, though, mentioned that the drop from last year is actually a pretty big deal. Stan Collender over at Capital Gains and Games was one of them:

In previous years we would have been breaking out the champagne on this news: The monthly budget review released yesterday by the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the federal budget deficit fell by $125 billion from 2009 to 2010. This by far is the biggest one-year nominal drop in the deficit that has ever occurred.

So why isn't everyone cheering? Steve Benen at Political Animal thinks he knows why:

For those of us who want to see the government borrow more in order to invest in economic growth and job creation, news of the deficit going down isn't good news at all. Borrowing more money is exceedingly cheap right now, and the economy desperately needs a boost. The fact that the deficit is shrinking may seem like good news in the abstract, but it's arguably the opposite of what we need.


And for those who consider the deficit a civilization-threatening scourge, we may be witnessing "the biggest one-year nominal drop in the deficit that has ever occurred," but it's not enough because it's still $1.29 trillion.

That's right, because, as Benen notes, this is "the kind of news that doesn't really satisfy anyone." Read the rest of the CBO report to soak up all the dismal estimates, budget totals, and receipts and outlays you can get your hands on.

Image by Flickr user johnsolid used under a Creative Commons license.

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