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Federal deficit shows improvement early in the budget year

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The federal budget deficit is showing a slight improvement through the first two months of the 2007 budget year, although the imbalance is still expected to exceed last year's figure.

The Treasury Department reported Tuesday that the deficit for November totaled $75.6 billion, down from a deficit in November 2005 of $83.1 billion.

Through the first two months of the current budget year, which began Oct. 1, the deficit totals $124.9 billion, down 4.2 percent from the $130.3 billion in red ink run up in the same period last year.

The improvement reflected continued strength in tax collections, which outpaced growth in government spending.

For the first two months of the budget year, revenues were up a strong 8.8 percent to $313.6 billion, compared with the same period last year. Government spending is also up, but by a smaller 4.2 percent, rising to $438.5 billion for the two months.

The deficit for the 2006 budget year, which ended Sept. 30, dropped to a four-year low of $248.2 billion.

The Bush administration is estimating that the deficit for the current 2007 budget year will rise to $339.2 billion, a sharp 36.7 percent increase from 2006. However, the Congressional Budget Office is projecting a smaller increase which will push the deficit in the current budget year to $286 billion.

Even though the 2007 budget year has already begun, Congress has been unable to pass appropriations bills to fund most government agencies, which are currently operating on a stop-gap funding measure that will expire in February.

Democrats, who will take control of the House and Senate in January, have said they plan to deal with the current budget year by passing a massive omnibus spending bill rather than trying to pass individual appropriations measures.
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