The federal government spent $1.299 trillion more than it received in revenue for fiscal year 2011, according to the Congressional Budget Office's November report on Monday.
Despite congressional efforts to cut government spending this year, federal spending increased $145 billion over fiscal year 2010. The total national debt is now close to $15 trillion, with over $116 trillion in unfunded liabilities.
In the 2010 elections, Republicans made large electoral gains on promises to reduce federal spending. They won control of the House of Representatives and gained six Senate seats. The resulting divided government, with Republicans in control of the House and Democrats controlling the Senate and presidency, set up contentious budget battles through most of 2011.
At the beginning of the year, there was not even a budget for 2011. Democrats decided not to pass a budget for that year under the calculation that doing so would harm their reelection chances in November 2010. After Republicans gained control of the House, they wanted to cut spending from previous spending levels for the 2011 fiscal year. This led to a budget showdown in April.
On the eve before a potential government shutdown, the two parties reached an agreement that cut $38.5 billion from the previous year's spending levels for the 2010 budget. That showdown would prove mild compared to the battle over raising the nation's debt ceiling that came in July and early August.
Republicans argued that they would not vote to increase the nation's debt limit unless there were budget cuts equal to or more than the amount of the increase. The resulting bill, the Budget Control Act of 2011, cut spending by $917 billion over 10 years in exchange for a $900 billion debt limit increase. It also created the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, or “supercommittee,” to cut at least $1.2 trillion from the federal budget over 10 years. If the supercommittee fails, $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts will go into effect.
The CBO report shows that the increased spending in 2011 came from the military ($11 billion), Social Security ($24 billion), Medicare ($33 billion), and Medicaid ($2 billion). Also, the rest of the federal spending increased by $39 billion and interest on the debt was $38 billion more in 2011 than in 2010. Funding for unemployment benefits shrank by $36 billion.
Total federal revenues in 2011 were $2.302 trillion and total federal spending was $3.601 trillion, making 2011 the second highest deficit in the nation's history, after 2009's $1.413 trillion deficit.
The CBO report notes that part of the increased spending in 2011 is due to the fact Oct. 1 fell on a Saturday, so $31 billion in spending that normally would have been made in the 2012 fiscal year was spent on Sept. 30, in the 2011 fiscal year. Also, in 2009, banks were required to pay deposit insurance premiums that would normally be paid over three years. This caused a shortfall of $13 billion in the deposit insurance program for 2011.