Thanks to Fannie, Freddie, the federal budget deficit looks less frightening
The U.S. federal government ran a budget deficit of approximately $750 billion in the first eleven months of the 2013 fiscal year—a reduction of more than $400 billion from a year earlier thanks in part to higher tax revenue, lower defense spending, fewer outlays for the Troubled Asset Relief Program and $82 billion in payments from the government-sponsored enterprises.
And, of course, the government also took in more from the taxpayers. All of this data comes from the latest Congressional Budget Office update.
So what brought the government to this point? For starters, individual income taxes and social security payments (or payroll taxes) increased by $251 billion during the first eleven months, an increase of 14% year-over-year.
Taxes withheld rose after the payroll tax expired in January and adjustments were made for salary and wage increases, the CBO said.
The biggest takeaway is that the housing sector continued to clear up and is no longer using the federal government as a crutch. Apparently expenditures for government activities related to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac fell by $87 billion when compared to the first eight month of 2012.
And back in 2012, the Treasury had made $5 billion in payments to the GSEs by August of fiscal 2012; however, this year, the Treasury is on the receiving end — having already taken in $82 billion in payments, mostly from Fannie Mae. Spending on unemployment benefits also declined by $22 billion, or 24%, as fewer Americans took in benefits, while expenditures tied to the Troubled Asset Relief Program – created to provide liquidity to the banks during the housing crisis – fell by $33 billion as the cost structure of the program was adjusted.
Defense spending also fell by $46 billion, or 8%, as the war in Afghanistan continued to wind down and sequestration initiatives cut into military budgets.
Overall, the government is not out of the clear, but is doing much better.