WASHINGTON, July 11 The U.S. government posted
an unexpectedly large budget surplus in June, a further sign of
the rapid improvement in public finances that has taken the heat
off Congress to find savings and raise the nation's borrowing
Rising tax revenue, public spending cuts and big payments to
the Treasury from government-backed mortgage companies helped
the government take in $117 billion more last month than it paid
out, the U.S. Treasury said on Thursday.
Analysts polled by Reuters had expected a surplus of $39.5
June's surplus was the largest on record for that month.
While the government is still $510 billion in the red with
three months to go in the fiscal year, June's big surplus will
buy it time before it runs up against the limit on borrowing set
by Congress. Analysts expect the Treasury to hit the debt
ceiling by early November.
The surplus in June also highlighted how much an improving
economy and existing legislation have helped improve the fiscal
outlook. That has made overhauling public pension and healthcare
systems a little less pressing.
Rising incomes and tax increases enacted earlier in the year
helped cause government receipts to rise to $287 billion in
June, up 10 percent from a year earlier. While economic growth
has been lackluster in the first half of 2013, job growth has
been more steady. In June, 195,000 jobs were added to the
nation's nonfarm payrolls.
Across-the-board budget cuts that began in March also
contributed to the surplus.
Gross outlays at the Department of Defense and for military
programs, for example, are down about 7 percent in the fiscal
year to date from the same period a year earlier. The current
fiscal year began in October 2012.
Government-backed mortgage companies Fannie Mae
and Freddie Mac, which were bailed out by taxpayers
during the financial crisis but have since returned to
profitability, also helped drive June's surplus by pouring
billion of dollars into public coffers.
Fannie Mae, which said in May it would return $59 billion to
the Treasury in quarterly dividends, provided most of the funds.
The big dividend payment reflected an extraordinary gain from
the reversal of a tax-related writedown.