WASHINGTON – With the economy performing worse than hoped, revised White House figures point to deepening budget deficits, with the government borrowing almost 50 cents for every dollar it spends this year.
The deficit for the current budget year will rise by $89 billion to above $1.8 trillion — about four times the record set just last year. The unprecedented red ink flows from the deep recession, the Wall St. bailout, the cost of President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus bill, as well as a structural imbalance between what the government spends and what it takes in.
As the economy performs worse than expected, the deficit for the 2010 budget year beginning in October will worsen by $87 billion to $1.3 trillion, the White House says. The deterioration reflects lower tax revenues and higher costs for bank failures, unemployment benefits and food stamps.
For the current year, the government would borrow 46 cents for every dollar it takes to run the government under the administration’s plan. In one of the few positive signs, the actual 2009 deficit is likely to be $250 billion less than predicted because Congress is unlikely to provide another $250 billion in financial bailout money.
The developments come as the White House completes the official release of its $3.6 trillion budget for 2010, adding detail to some of its tax proposals and ideas for producing health care savings. The White House budget is a recommendation to Congress that represents Obama’s fiscal and policy vision for the next decade.
Annual deficits would never dip below $500 billion and would total $7.1 trillion over 2010-2019. Even those dismal figures rely on economic projections that are significantly more optimistic — just a 1.2 percent decline in gross domestic product this year and a 3.2 percent growth rate for 2010 — than those forecast by private sector economists and the Congressional Budget Office.
For the most part, Obama’s updated budget tracks the 134-page outline he submitted to lawmakers in February. His budget remains a bold but contentious document that proposes higher taxes for the wealthy, a hotly contested effort to combat global warming and the first steps toward guaranteed health care for all.
Obama’s Democratic allies controlling Congress have already made it clear that they will reject key elements of his plan. Already apparently dead is a plan to raise $267 billion over the next decade to pay for his health care initiative by curbing the ability of wealthier people to reduce their tax bills through deductions for mortgage interest, charitable contributions and state and local taxes.
And the congressional budget plan approved last month would not extend Obama’s signature $400 tax credit for most workers — $800 for couples — after it expires at the end of next year.
Obama’s remarkably controversial “cap-and-trade” proposal to curb heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions is also reeling from opposition from Capitol Hill Democrats from coal-producing regions and states with concentrations of heavy industry. Under cap-and-trade, the government would auction permits to emit heat-trapping gases, with the costs being passed on to consumers via higher gasoline and electric bills.
Among the new proposals is a plan — already on its way through Congress — that would increase the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s borrowing authority from $30 billion to $100 billion in order to grant a two-year reprieve from higher deposit insurance premiums while the industry is struggling.
Also new are several tax “loophole” closures and increased IRS tax compliance efforts to raise $58 billion over the next decade to help finance Obama’s health care measure. The money makes up for revenue losses stemming from lower-than-hoped estimates of his proposal to limit wealthier people’s ability to maximize their itemized deductions.
The updated budget also would repeal an unintended tax windfall taken by paper companies that use a byproduct in the paper-making process as fuel to power their mills. The tax credits were never intended for paper companies, but now they could be worth more than $3 billion a year, according to a congressional estimate.
The budget would make permanent the expanded $2,500 tax credit for college expenses that was provided for two years in the just-passed economic stimulus bill. It also would renew most of the Bush tax cuts enacted in 2001 and 2003, and would permanently update the alternative minimum tax so that it would hit fewer middle- to upper-income taxpayers.