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U.S. deficit bigger than expected

WASHINGTON, Oct. 15 (UPI) -- The U.S. government racked up a record $455 billion deficit in fiscal 2008, an even larger shortfall than expected, officials revealed Tuesday.

"The reality is that the next president will be inheriting a fiscal and economic mess of historic proportions -- the legacy of President Bush's failed policies," said Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., chairman of the Senate Budget Committee. "It will take years to dig our way out."

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An even larger deficit is expected in the coming year as the United States works its way out of its worst financial mess since the Great Depression of the 1930s, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The previous worst deficit year was 2004 when the federal government bled $413 billion in red ink. Last year, the shortfall was $162 billion.

The deficit for the fiscal year ended Sept. 30 was even higher than the $438 billion the Congressional Budget Office had projected just a week ago, The New York Times reported.

The White House proffered that the deficit amounted to 3.2 percent of the gross domestic product, leaving it well below the 6 percent record set in 1983 when President Ronald Reagan's tax cuts were put into effect, the Los Angeles Times reported.

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"I am confident the economy can return to stronger growth with a declining deficit -- after working through current challenges -- if Congress limits wasteful and excessive spending," White House Budget Director Jim Nussle said in a statement.

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