Via Fox News:
The U.S. budget deficit unexpectedly increased in November, to $172 billion for the month — pushing the country one step closer to the limit on government borrowing.
The Treasury said Wednesday the deficit last month was $22 billion more than the October mark and up from $137 billion in November 2011.
The numbers paint a gloomy picture of the country’s fiscal health and could complicate already delicate negotiations in Washington over tax rates and spending cuts with a deadline looming to to avert a fiscal crisis.
The Treasury said the unexpired jump was the result of a calendar quirk that pulled into November about $33 billion in benefits payments slated for December.
The new number could puts the country on pace to notch its fifth-straight annual deficit over $1 trillion. The government finished the 2012 budget year, which ends Sept. 30, with a deficit of $1.1 trillion.
With the economy and hiring improving a bit, the government is receiving more tax receipts. Overall tax revenue increased 10 percent in the first two months of the budget year to $346 billion. But spending has increased faster, up $87 billion or 16 percent.
The deficit, in simplest terms, is the amount of money the government has to borrow when revenues fall short of expenses. Last year’s deficit was lower than the previous year but still painfully high by historical standards.
Obama’s presidency has coincided with four straight $1 trillion-plus deficits — the first in history and a record he had to vigorously defend during his re-election campaign. He had promised in February 2009 to cut the deficit in half by the end of this first term.