WASHINGTON -- The U.S. budget deficit reached $1.3 trillion for this fiscal year in July, official data showed, news set to fuel opposition to President Barack Obama's ambitious healthcare and climate change proposals.
The deficit for the first 10 months of fiscal year 2009, which began Oct. 1, reached $1.3 trillion, close to $880 billion greater than the deficit recorded through July 2008, said the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).
Outlays rose by almost $530 billion, or 21 percent, and revenues fell by more than $350 billion, or 17 percent, compared with the amounts recorded during the same period last year, the nonpartisan CBO said.
The new data is likely to stoke Republican opposition to Obama's plans to remake the healthcare system and enact sweeping legislation to battle climate change, as well as fuel criticism of his handling of the economy.
Republicans have charged that the nearly $800-billion economic stimulus package Obama and his Democratic allies pushed through this year only swells the deficit and has not paid off in jobs recovered.
For his part, the president declared late Thursday that America may be seeing the beginning of the end of its economic nightmare.
The president fired a blistering attack at his Republican critics.
"The recession was years in the making, it didn't just start last month," he said in a fiery and partisan speech reminiscent of his barnstorming 2008 campaign rhetoric. "That bank crisis didn't happen on my watch. Let's get the history straight."
The president argued that his $787-billion rescue plan and other emergency measures had stopped the economy's free fall and cut the rate of job losses.
"We may just be seeing the very beginnings of the end of this recession," he said.
Obama cranked up his counter-attack as a new poll suggested voter patience may be wearing thin with his economic rescue effort, with his sky-high job approval rating slumping to 50 percent, the lowest since his inauguration.
The Quinnipiac University poll rating was a significant dip from the 57 percent Obama enjoyed on July 2, and it followed a month of fierce battles of his economic rescue plans and signature healthcare reform.
The White House also is bracing for new unemployment figures due Friday that analysts expect to show the jobless rate climbing to a 26-year high of 9.6 percent, ever closer to the politically perilous 10-percent mark.
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