The U.S. budget deficit widened to $310 billion in the first four months of the fiscal year, underscoring the revenue hit from Republican tax cuts and an increase in government spending.
The budget gap widened 77 percent compared with the same October-January period a year earlier, according to the Treasury monthly budget report released on Tuesday, which was delayed by the government shutdown. Receipts fell by 2 percent to $1.1 trillion, while spending rose 9 percent to $1.4 trillion.
The financial shortfall is set to widen further in the coming years as the Republican tax cut package, which costs about $1.5 trillion over a decade, and increased spending for defense and other priorities boost government outlays. Some policy makers and economists are flagging concern about the growing debt burden, saying it risks America’s credit quality among borrowers, while other economists see more room to run.
Tax receipts fell for both corporations and individuals, the Treasury data showed.
The Commerce Department said Wednesday that — despite more than two years of President Trump’s “America First” policies — the United States last year posted a $891.2 billion merchandise trade deficit, the largest in the nation’s 243-year history.
The trade gap with China also hit a record $419 billion, underscoring the stakes for the president’s bid to reach a deal with Chinese President Xi Jinping as soon as this month.
The department’s final 2018 trade report, which was delayed by the government shutdown, showed that the U.S. bought far more in foreign goods than it sold to customers in Europe, Asia, North America and Africa. The goods shortfall topped the 2006 record of $838.3 billion, set as the housing bubble was peaking, and marked the third consecutive year of rising deficits.
It has been evident for months that the president was failing to shrink a trade gap that he calls “unsustainable” and that he says represents a massive transfer of wealth from Americans to foreigners. Over the past year, even as he imposed tariffs on foreign-made solar panels, washing machines, steel, aluminum and assorted goods from China, imports roared ahead of exports.