ABC News’ Matthew Jaffe reports:
The government racked up a record-high monthly budget deficit of $220.9 billion in February, the Treasury Department announced today .
The latest flood of red ink brings the total deficit for the first five months of the current fiscal year to $651 billion, far exceeding the $589 billion shortfall for the same timeframe in the last fiscal year.
The government ended the 2009 fiscal year with a record $1.4 trillion shortfall. The Obama administration has forecast a $1.56 trillion deficit for this year.
Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is testifying on the administration’s budget proposals before the House Appropriations Committee this afternoon.
Yesterday Christina Romer, one of President Obama’s top economic advisers, acknowledged in a speech in Virginia that the government’s rising red ink is “a challenge that simply must be addressed,” but she cautioned that “it is virtually impossible to get the deficit under control when the unemployment rate remains near 10 percent.”
“The sensible way to address the deficit is with a long-run plan,” Romer said at an economists’ conference in Arlington, just outside of Washington, DC. “It would be penny-wise but pound-foolish to deal with our long-run problem by tightening fiscal policy immediately or foregoing additional emergency spending to reduce unemployment.”