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: U.S. budget deficit triples to $85 billion in December

The numbers: The U.S. budget deficit tripled to $85 billion in December from a year earlier, reflecting somewhat higher spending and a small decline in tax receipts.

Key details: Government spending rose by 6% to $540 billion compared to $508 billion in the same month one year ago.

Some of the extra outlays stem from the U.S. paying higher interest rates on its mountain of debt.

The amount of taxes collected last month fell by 7% to $455 billion from a year earlier. The drop in receipts is partly tied to a weakening economy.

For the first three months of the current fiscal year, the deficit totaled $421 billion compared to $378 billion in the same period last year.

The current fiscal year began in October and ends on Sept. 30, 2023.

Big picture: Annual U.S. deficits have fallen from a record peak during the pandemic after the end of emergency relief payments, but they are still historically high.

The Federal Reserve is raising interest rates to try to tame inflation, a strategy that is putting more pressure on the federal budget. Higher rates slow the economy and force the government to pay more to service its debt.

The U.S. national debt recently topped $31 trillion.

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