Federal Budget Deficit Falls to Four-Year Low

The federal deficit in the budget year that just ended fell to a four-year low of $247.7 billion � a figure President Bush touted Wednesday as "proof that pro-growth policies work."

The deficit for the budget year that ended Sept. 30 was 22.3 percent lower than the $318.7 billion imbalance for 2005.

Bush, speaking to members of his administration, called his first term tax cuts the "cornerstone of our economic recovery policy" and said he would keep working to get Congress to make those tax cuts permanent.

In an earlier news conference, Bush said the deficit outcome for the 2006 budget year represented a "dramatic reduction" that redeemed his 2004 campaign pledge to halve the deficit earlier than his original 2009 target date.

"These numbers show that we have now achieved our goal of cutting the federal deficit in half and we've done it three years ahead of schedule," Bush told reporters at a Rose Garden news conference.

The reason for the improvement this year was a second consecutive big jump in revenues, propelled by strong economic strength. The 11.7 percent increase in revenues was the second biggest percentage gain in history.

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