SMALLER DEFICIT: The U.S. federal deficit was $322 billion through the first quarter of the budget year, the Treasury Department said Thursday. That's $47 billion less than the same period last year.
STILL HIGH: The Congressional Budget Office estimates the government will run a $973 billion deficit for the entire 2012 budget year. While that's lower than last year's $1.3 trillion imbalance, it would be higher than any previous deficit before fiscal 2009.
ACCOUNTING QUIRK: A big reason for the smaller deficit was an accounting quirk, which shifted some early payments to the final week of the 2011 budget.