The U.S. government budget deficit dramatically widened in May, as spending jumped 31.3 percent from the same month a year ago.

The deficit expanded to $124.6 billion from a $57.6 billion shortfall in May 2011, according to Treasury Department data released today in Washington.

Overall, the federal budget deficit is approaching $1 trillion for a fourth straight year even though the government is collecting more tax revenue than last year.

The Treasury Department said Tuesday that the deficit grew by $124.6 billion in May. That put the deficit through the first eight months of the budget year at $844.5 billion/

The Congressional Budget Office forecasts that the deficit for the entire 2012 budget year, which ends Sept. 30, will total $1.17 trillion. That’s only a slight improvement from the $1.3 trillion deficit recorded in fiscal 2011. And it is certain to keep the federal budget near the center of the presidential campaign.

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