There is a difference. The media often mixes up the two. It is important to understand the difference.
Federal Budget Deficit/Surplus is the difference between tax receipts and expenditures for a fiscal year. When tax receipts are more than expenditures there is a surplus and when tax receipts are less than expenditures there is a deficit. The fiscal year for Federal Government is October 1 to September 30. For instance, right now - January 27, 2010, Federal Government is in Fiscal Year 2010.
The President submits the budget request to Congress for approval by the first Monday in February before the new fiscal year starts in October. Congress receives it and has hearings to question administration officials about it. Then House and Senate develop budget resolutions to pass by each body separately. After passages, both chambers of Congress meet to reconcile the differences and arrive at one budget resolution. Congress can enforce the adopted budget resolution through the ability of a single member of the House or the Senate to raise a budget “point of order” on the floor to block any piece of legislation that violates (or exceeds) the budget resolution. There are serious questions to the effectiveness of this enforcement mechanism.
Our current budget deficit for Fiscal Year 2010 (projected) is $1.3 Trillion. The last time we had a Budget Surplus was Fiscal Year 2000: $86.4 Billion. What happened: 1) Bush’s tax cuts; 2) Iraq and Afghanistan Wars; 3) Wall Street Bailouts and 4) the effects of the Great Recession - in the form of much lower tax receipts:
Federal/National debt is the amount debt issued by the federal government. Some people define it in terms of funding of federal deficits. The problem with that definition is that federal debt is issued regardless of whether there is a budget surplus or budget deficit. Currently, the outstanding amount of federal debt is $12.3 Trillion. A good way to put this amount in perspective is to compare it to the Gross Domestic Product(GDP) or make it a percentage of GDP:
Notice the red lines! So much for Republicans being fiscally responsible.
economy financial+crisis budget+deficit obama unemployment jobs credit+cards debt social+security personal+finance capitalism deficit bailout mortgage mortgage+crisis economic+crisis wall+street+bailout new+economy job+guarantee retirement+savings credit+unions deficit+hawks economic+stimulus cooperatives health+care+reform financial+regulatory+reform income+inequality financial+conglomerates tarp financial+oligarchy 401k worker+cooperatives gdp federal+debt new+normal money scams fiat+currency debt+management globalization savings consumer+protection stimulus neoliberal unemployment+rate tax+cuts wall+street middle+class investing consumer+debt investments china economic+growth wages federal+reserve debt+settlement federal+deficit democrats republicans stocks government+spending negative+equity risk foreclosure budget financial+planning credit+card+debt ira inflation class+war jobs+report financial+bailout fiscal+policy evil pete+peterson health+care financial+literacy jobs+crisis foreclosures move+your+money full+employment modern+monetary+theory stock+market neo-liberal checking economic+policy u.s.+treasuries bonds economic+mobility job+growth bank+of+america foreclosure+fraud taxes consumer+spending cfpa derivatives goldman+sachs mortgages debt+consolidation eu great+recession gold keynes refinance fico+scores debt+crisis credit+scores real+estate mortgage+foreclosure financial+regulation banking+system federal+budget de-regulation financial+crisis+inquiry+commission deficit+commission debt+servitude krugman free+trade solidarity wisconsin income+tax refinancing debt+collection loan+modifications trickle+down+economics financial+stability+plan poverty retirement working+class currency monthly+budget wills economics #finreg tbtf estate+planning consumer+credit gold+standard debt+ceiling auto+industry president+obama center+for+responsible+lending mutual+funds innocent+fraud aig life+insurance personal+income trade+deficit market+fundamentalism consumer+financial+protection+agency cash+flow banking identity+theft fraud compound+interest too+big+to+fail predatory fdic state+of+the+union u.s.+treasury+securities net+worth class+warfare bankruptcy interest+rates greece quantitative+easing political+system fundamentals living+wage output+gap success consumption ltcm universal+health+care income+distribution household john+mccain minimum+wage new+democrat+coalition two+americas frontline senate+democrats eurozone debt+commission haymarket american+recovery+and+reinvestment+act oligarchy two+economies income regulations ben+bernanke california+budget catfood employee+ownership existing+home+sales jobless+recovery carried+interest john+edwards mark+to+market budgets payroll+tax euro chicago+idea paladino robert+reich gmac life+settlements tax+holiday ireland mlk fannie+mae housing+market cowards slavery dollar sector+balances target+date+mutual+funds argentina fierce subprime bad+bank bullshit phone+scams financial+regulations national+debt free+markets united+states now savings+plan alan+greenspan deficit+errorists payroll+tax+holiday time+value+of+money cost+of+unemployment ponzi+schemes swipe+fees savings+bonds shadow+banking+system fica+tax madison paulson future+value pensions fed+audit debit+cards credit+markets fair+debt+collection+practices+act tax+code #wallstreetscam great+divergence warren+buffett treasury+department present+value tax+deal cooperative+economy predatory+home+lenders cash cdo walker ppip job+loss 20-year+mortgage obama+tax+deal short+sales liquidity u.s.+debt poverty+rates conservatives home+buying economic+purgatory long+term+unemployment vicious+cycle cash+management treasury+securities detroit+schools home+closing banks deficit+hawk american+capitalism bartering emergency+savings efca debt+hysteria online+scams income+taxes investment inequality community+gardens economic community+banks debt+to+gdp recession austerity email beige+book mortgage+modifications yuan risk-return investment+advice estate investment+yields happy+year finreg hyman+minsky american+dream malicious+software deflation corporate+bailouts federal business+roundtable cooperation dot+com+bubble leading+economic+indicators deferred+annuities bailouts economic+policies balancing+checkbook alternatives returns housing+bubble chris+dodd lei home+mortgage fixed+rate+annuity lobbyists debt+is+evil disability+income+insurance scam fiscal+sustainability credit+report teach-in currency+manipulation bill+gross insurance variable+rate+annuity corporate+tax+breaks credit+card+law deficit+spending tina balance+check+book economic+indicators budgeting financialization warren+mosler washington+consensus foreclosure+rescue+services gross+domestic+product race+to+bottom big+banks marx june+jobs+report general+motors open+auction lost+decade financial+genocide republican+budget emergency new+capitalist+manifesto bank+fees credit+card minsky tips geithner commercial+real+estate direct+jobs+program civil+disobedience human+capital direct+deposit reaganomics overdraft cfpb galbraith social+security+cards personal+consumption treasuries protests balance etf economic+justice barack+obama worker+ownership wall+street+bailouts exports household+debt fallacy+of+composition gas+prices obama+administration destruction citizens+united outlays unemployment+benefits imports card+act fallacies securities+laws save public+option living+standard unions july+2011 laid+off citigroup financial+sector foreclosure+gate auto+loans emergency+funds deductibles strategic+defaults keynesian wiped+out productivity+ralph+nader new+era+windows money+market+accounts unemployment+insurance fox+news+channel human+capitalism savings+tip financial+reform arra free+credit+report chicago money+market+mutual+funds afl-cio fox move+money predatory+lending credit+rating+agencies credit+reports fallacy uaw employment principal+reduction roger+ailes close+banking+accounts countervailing+powers refund+anticipation+loans jobs+data moody's revolution tax+reform denmark propaganda banking+services john+k.+galbraith tax+refund debt+forgiveness lehman+brothers cornel+west exuberance disposable+income national+infrastructure+bank corporate+welfare u.s money+manager+capitalism birth+certificate monetary+policy option+arm mortgage+loan+modifications subprime+mortgages corporate+profits