New figures from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimate that the current fiscal year's debt should drop to $331 billion.

Last year's deficit ran to $412 billion, and increasing revenues and a growing economy were cited as the chief drivers behind the lowered new estimate for this year. The budget office also predicted a $314 billion deficit for the budget year starting Oct. 1.

The White House forecast a $333 billion deficit for the year ending Sept. 30 and a $341 billion deficit for next year. Unlike White House estimates released last month, the budget office assumes that Bush's tax cuts will lapse at the end of the decade.

Last year's deficit was a record in dollar terms, though many previous deficits in the mid-1980s and early 1990s were larger when measured against the size of the economy.

By the standards the budget offices uses, the estimates assume that the costs of occupying Iraq and Afghanistan will stay at current levels. In May, Congress passed an $82 billion measure to provide more war funding.

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