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Debt has grown $3.5 trillion on Obama's watch

deficit, debt
Vince Bucci

Just as President Obama signed and sent his annual Economic Report to Congress, the Treasury Department posted numbers that show the national debt has increased $3.5 trillion so far on Mr. Obama's watch.

On the day he was inaugurated, the national debt stood at $10.626 trillion. It had increased $4.9 trillion during President George W. Bush's eight years in office.

The posting today shows the debt at $14.128 trillion; that's a $3.5 trillion increase in the 25 months Mr. Obama has occupied the White House.

Budget numbers released last week show the national debt will top a $5 trillion increase at the start of Mr. Obama's fourth year in office.

"We need to rein in deficits after a decade of rising debt, and reform our government," the president writes in his economic message to Congress today. He calls deficit-reduction "the way to robust and widely shared prosperity."

He states that the "final step" in his economic game plan for "winning the future" is to make sure the nation isn't "buried under a mountain of debt."

"I've proposed that government live within its means while investing in the future," he says in his statement.

He again cites his promises to:

- veto any bill that contains earmarks.

- freeze a portion of domestic federal spending so as to reduce the deficit by $400 billion over five years.

But at the same time, Mr. Obama tells Congress it would "be a mistake to cut the deficit by gutting our investments in innovation and education."

Critics of the president's game plan say it doesn't come close to adequately reducing deficit spending and the national debt.

In fact, the president's budget last week projects the federal deficit will hit an all-time high this year of $1.645 trillion. That exceeds the total of all the debt run up by the U.S. government from its inception through 1984.

The budget projects a $1.1 trillion deficit in 2012 and then deficits in the range of $600 billion and $800 billion through the end of the decade.

The president says little about those numbers in his report to Congress.

There's not much his administration can do change them.

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