CBO: Federal deficit continues to grow

The federal government's deficit continues to grow, according to the latest numbers from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

The government is expected to run a deficit of $830 billion in the first six months of fiscal 2011, a $113 billion increase from the same period last year, the CBO reported Thursday.

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The latest numbers could serve as fresh ammunition for Congressional Republicans caught in a fight over government spending with their Democratic counterparts. Lawmakers are currently haggling over both a short-term spending package to avert a government shutdown and a longer-term budget proposal for fiscal 2012. And indications the deficit is still on the rise could bolster arguments to make major spending cuts.

The CBO reported that both government spending and revenue collection were up in 2011 when compared to 2010, by 11 percent and 7 percent, respectively.

In March alone, the federal deficit stood at $189 billion, which is $124 billion more than the same month last year.

The organization's data shows government spending rising in nearly every major category. Spending on defense, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid were up in preliminary fiscal 2011 numbers when compared to 2010, as CBO estimated government outlays were up $179 billion in the first six months of fiscal 2011. Spending dropped 22 percent on unemployment benefits over that same period.

Government revenues were also slightly up over that time frame, growing 6.9 percent or $66 billion. However, receipts in March were down about $3 billion when compared to March 2010, driven by declines in individual income as well as payroll, estate and gift taxes.

The CBO noted that vital information about the government's fiscal picture will be coming in the next several weeks, as individual income tax returns are filed for 2010 and estimated payments of income taxes will be made by corporations and individuals for the first quarter of 2011.