February is traditionally not a good month for the US government income statement: that's when it usually runs a steep monthly deficit as tax returns drain the Treasury's coffers. However, this February was worse than usual, because as spending rose and tax receipts slumped, the US deficit jumped to $215 billion, the biggest February deficit since 2012.
According to the CBO, receipts declined by 9.4% from last year as tax refunds rose and the new withholding tables went into effect. On a rolling 12 month basis, government receipts rose only 2.1%, a clear slowdown after rising 3.1% in December after contracting as recently as March 2017. At this rate of decline, the US will post a decline in Federal Receipts by mid-2018.
Outlays meanwhile rose by 2% due to higher Social Security and Medicare benefits rose and additional funds were released for disaster relief.
But most troubling was the jump in interest on the public debt, which in the month of February jumped to $28.434 billion, up 10.6% from last February and the most for any February on record. In the first five months of this fiscal year, that interest is $203.234 bn, up 8.0% y/y and the most on record for any Oct-Feb period. The sharp increase comes as the US public debt rapidly approaches $21 trillion. And with the effective interest rate now rising with every passing month, it is virtually assured that this number will keep rising for the months ahead.