GOVERNMENT budget surplus for June shrinks with weakened economy

Friday, July 20th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The government's budget surplus in June was a lot smaller than for the same month last year, reflecting the impact of a weak economy.

The Treasury Department reported Friday that the government's surplus last month came to $31.9 billion. That's 43 percent lower than the $55.9 billion surplus posted in June 2000.

As the faltering economy has taken a bite out of corporate profits, corporate income taxes have fallen as well, the Congressional Budget Office said.

Corporate income tax payments in June came to $29.9 billion, a 26 percent drop from the $40.5 billion collected in June 2000.

Individual income tax payments were down by 6.8 percent, totaling $93.7 billion last month, against $100.5 billion a year ago.

The dwindling surplus projections have prompted a partisan fight over what to do about them.

On Thursday, White House economic adviser Lawrence Lindsey accused Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad and other Democrats of threatening tax increases that could cause ``economic disaster.''

Conrad, D-N.D., fired back Friday, saying he has never advocated boosting taxes in a weak economy and repeating accusations that the Bush tax cut is driving the budget ``back into the deficit ditch.''

``I call on Mr. Lindsey to recant these false statements,'' Conrad said on the Senate floor, adding, ``Mr. Lindsey, shame on you.''

June's surplus was slightly larger than the $30 billion projected by the CBO, but was smaller than the $36.5 billion expected by private economists.

Receipts totaled $202.9 billion last month, and spending came to $171 billion.

In May, the government posted a deficit of $27.9 billion, unchanged from Treasury's previous estimate.

Through the first nine months of this budget year, which began Oct. 1, the government is running a surplus of $168.9 billion, down from $176.5 billion for the corresponding period last year.

Receipts for the first nine months of this budget year came to $1.58 trillion and spending totaled $1.41 trillion.

The budget surplus for the 2000 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, was $236.9 billion.

A surplus for 2001 would mark the fourth consecutive year the government has finished in the black, a stretch last accomplished during an 11-year string of surpluses that ended with the $738 million surplus of 1930.

The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the 2001 surplus will fall below $200 billion. President Bush's budget chief, Mitchell Daniels, said the figure could be as low as $160 billion. Regardless, it would still be the second biggest surplus ever, trailing only the $236.9 billion rung up in 2000.