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Clinton Announces Sharp Drop In Deficit

The federal budget deficit for the 1997 fiscal year fell to $22.6 billion, a level lower than any other major industrialized country, President Clinton announced Monday.

The drop reflects a $267 billion decrease since he took office and enacted a balanced-budget plan over objections of Republicans, Clinton said during a speech to the Democratic Leadership Council.

Administration officials credited the drop to strong economic growth and a resulting increase in tax revenue.

The deficit was reduced even before the White House and Congress reached a balanced-budget agreement during the summer, but the final figure was even lower than administration officials had predicted.

The new figure, covering the budget year that ended Sept. 30, was based on the Treasury Department’s final calculations of government spending and tax receipts.

The gap is the lowest since 1974, when it was $6.1 billion. The deficit is now equal to 0.3 percent of the nation’s economic output, the lowest since 1970, the year after the government recorded its last budget surplus.

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