(Recasts, adds background)
WASHINGTON, April 12 The United States spent
more than twice what it took in last month, raising the federal
deficit to a record $829 billion for the first half of the
fiscal year that began in October.
The Treasury Department on Tuesday said the United States
posted a monthly budget deficit of $188 billion in March, the
second highest shortfall of any March outsized only by the $192
billion gap posted in March 2009.
The cumulative deficit through the first half of fiscal
2011, which began Oct. 1, was a record $829 billion, about 16
percent higher than the $717 billion shortfall in the first
half of last year.
President Barack Obama on Wednesday is expected to outline
a long-term plan for deficit reduction in preparation for big
U.S. spending battles ahead.
Obama and House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner
last week narrowly averted a government shutdown when they
struck a deal on how to spend taxpayer dollars for the fiscal
year started last October.
Another much larger fight over the budget looms large as
the government could hit the current $14.3 trillion limit on
its borrowing authority by mid-May. It will need Congress to
approve another increase in that debt ceiling.
The monthly shortfall was just shy of the $189 billion
forecast of economists polled by Reuters.
(Reporting by Corbett B. Daly; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)