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US trims budget deficit to $319b in 2005


WASHINGTON, Oct 15 (AFP): The United States trimmed its groaning budget deficit to 319 billion dollars in fiscal year 2005, the government announced yesterday, as swelling tax revenues partly offset heavy spending on defence and health care.
The US deficit in 2004 had hit a record 413 billion dollars.
"While deficits are never welcome, the fact that we finished FY 2005 with a much lower-than-expected deficit is encouraging news," Treasury Secretary John Snow said in the year-end budget report.
The 2005 deficit figure landed in the middle of estimates by Congress and the White House. In early October, the Congressional Budget Office had forecast a deficit of 317 billion dollars, while the White House predicted 333 billion dollars.
This year's deficit of 319 billion dollars represents 2.6 per cent of gross domestic product, the Treasury said.
Spending rose 7.9 per cent to 2.473 trillion dollars from a year ago, while revenues increased twice as much, 14.6 per cent, to 2.154 trillion dollars.
The largest increases in spending were generated by five areas: agriculture, defence, national security, health and education.