Washington (AFP) – The U.S. government’s budget deficit for fiscal year 2014 shrank to its lowest level in six years as tax revenues rose amid a growing economy, the Treasury Department said Wednesday.
The deficit stood at $483 billion in the year that ended September 30, a decline of 29 percent from the 2013 fiscal year shortfall of $680 billion.
It was the smallest deficit since 2008, the first year of the severe recession.
As a percentage of the economy, the deficit fell below 3.0 percent of GDP to 2.8 percent, a level last seen in 2007. In 2013 that share was 4.1 percent.
Last year’s deficit-to-GDP ratio was “less than the average of the last 40 years,” Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said at a news conference.
Revenues, mostly taxes, rose nine percent to $3.02 trillion, while spending climbed only one percent to $3.50 trillion.
Lew and Shaun Donovan, head of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), credited President Barack Obama’s leadership in the budget process for driving down the country’s deficit.
Referring to the Democratic president’s proposed fiscal year 2015 budget, they said in a statement that the new budget “continues this progress, bringing deficits down as a share of the economy to about two percent of GDP by the end of the next decade.”
“The president’s policies and a strengthening U.S. economy have resulted in a reduction of the U.S. budget deficit of approximately two-thirds — the fastest sustained deficit reduction since World War II,” Lew said.
The significant rebalancing of the U.S. government accounts under Obama, who took office in 2009, follows spending cuts dictated by Congress.
The House of Representatives, which since 2011 has been controlled by rival Republican lawmakers, has pushed through many of the outlay reductions, notably after forcing a 16-day government shutdown in October as fiscal year 2014 got under way.
Republicans and Democrats are at odds over spending; conservatives are keen on slashing the deficit by cutting some social spending while boosting defense funds, but Obama supports more help to low-income families and infrastructure development.
AFP Photo/Paul J. Richards