WASHINGTON, Jan. 13 (UPI) -- The U.S. budget deficit is expected to climb back above $400 billion this year, the White House has acknowledged.
That would erase improvements from last year and complicate President George Bush's vow to cut the deficit in half by 2009, The New York Times said Friday.
Joel Kaplan, the White House deputy budget director, predicted a government shortfall of more than $400 billion in 2006 from $319 billion in 2005, largely because of relief efforts tied to Hurricane Katrina.
Such a shortfall would be equal to about 3 percent of the nation's gross domestic product, significantly higher than last year and high for a country expecting its fifth consecutive year of economic growth.
The new deficit forecast is about $60 billion more than what the administration had predicted in July before Hurricane Katrina.