Treasury: Surplus Running Below 2000 Level

With only two months to go in the fiscal year, the government's budget surplus is running $10.13 billion below the level of a year ago, the Treasury Department said Monday.

Through July, the excess of revenues over spending totaled $171.5 billion, a drop of 5.6 percent from the $181.6 billion surplus total for the same period in 2000, the department said in its monthly look at the government's finances.

The Bush administration, which will release on Wednesday its updated surplus estimates for this year and future years, is already drawing fire from Democrats who contend that President Bush's tax cut has reduced surplus projections to the point that the government's major benefit program, Social Security, is being threatened.

The administration rejects those charges and contends that the $1.35 trillion, 10-year tax cut that Congress approved this year at Bush's urging was needed to fight the current economic slowdown.

The administration blames the weakening economy, not its tax cut, for most of the revenue shortfall.

The Treasury's budget report showed that for the month of July, the budget surplus totaled $2.5 billion, down from a surplus of $5.1 billion in July 2000.

For the first 10 months of the current fiscal year, which began last Oct. 1, the government has spent $1.54 trillion, a 3.5 percent increase in spending from the same period in 2000.

That increase in spending outpaced the increase in revenues during the same period, which were up by 2.5 percent to $1.71 trillion.

For 2000, the budget surplus rose to a record $237 billion, the third straight budget surplus, something that had not been accomplished since the late 1940s.

The administration had been forecasting a surplus of $281 billion for the current fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30. However, administration officials have indicated that figure will be reduced to around $160 billion when its new report is issued Wednesday.