CBO: Spending increased $145 billion in 2011, despite lawmakers' efforts

Despite all the budget wrangling in Congress this year and the intense focus of House Republicans on cuts, spending grew by $145 billion in fiscal 2011 compared to a year earlier, the Congressional Budget Office confirmed Monday.

The April spending deal cut $38.5 billion in discretionary budget authority, but the government continued to make outlays based on previous authorizations and mandatory spending continued on autopilot.

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The CBO report comes amid grumbling by House GOP freshmen that they have been unable to live up to campaign pledges to bring government spending to pre-stimulus, pre-bailout levels.

Overall spending outlays in 2008 were $2.98 trillion while outlays in 2011 were $3.6 trillion, higher than spending at the peak of the administration's stimulus plan in 2009, when $3.5 trillion was spent.

The year 2011 saw a 1 percent increase in defense spending, 3.5 percent increase in Social Security spending and 4 percent increase in Medicare spending compared to 2010. Interest on the debt increased by 16 percent.

On the other hand, reduced unemployment benefits cost the government $126 billion compared to $162 billion in 2010, a 22 percent decrease.

Accounting for some payment shifts — such as the fact certain payments were made in September rather than October (because Oct. 1 fell on a weekend), spending still increased by $64 billion compared to 2010.

The CBO Monday report confirmed what the agency had previously projected: the federal budget deficit in fiscal 2011 was $1.299 trillion, slightly above the $1.294 trillion in fiscal 2010.

That makes the deficit the second largest in dollar terms after that of 2009, which saw increased spending due to President Obama's stimulus package.

CBO reported that the federal budget deficit shrank in October to $95 billion, a drop of 46 percent compared to the $140 billion deficit last October, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Taking the Oct. 1 payment shift into account, the deficit would have been $125 billion — $15 billion less than in 2010. 

Most of the change is due to increased revenue.