It's been almost four years since the United States posted a monthly budget surplus, so we should be celebrating that it did so in April, right? Unfortunately, the instant reaction from The Associated Press was to rain all over the apparently sunny news.
If you do want to use the story to try to get an office party started, go with Bloomberg's report, which leads with the numbers ("Receipts topped outlays by $59.1 compared with a deficit of $40.4 billion in April 2011" and beating economists' predictions of a $35 billion surplus), and then this sunny quote from economist Chris Rupkey: "This is the first good news in a long while that the rising tide of tax revenues may be starting to lift as the economic expansion nears the three-year mark from the end of the recession."
And get that champagne corked before the boss finds AP's story putting the news into gloomy perspective: "But that black ink won't last. The federal government is on track to exceed a $1 trillion deficit for the fourth straight year, keeping the contentious issue front and center during the 2012 presidential election." Besides which, a budget bump is "not unusual for this time of year, when annual tax returns are due." What a drag.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.