(CNSNews.com) - President Barack Obama claimed today that since he has been president both parties have worked together to cut the federal deficit by $2.5 trillion—despite the fact that the national debt has increased $5.9 trillion during Obama’s presidency, which is more than it increased under all presidents from George Washington through Bill Clinton combined.
“Over the last few years both parties have worked together to reduce our deficits by more than $2.5 trillion,” Obama said in a speech at the White House in which he called on Congress to avoid modest automatic cuts in anticipated spending that are set to begin on March 1.
“More than two thirds of that was through some pretty tough spending cuts,” Obama said. “The rest of it was through raising taxes, tax rates, on the wealthiest one percent of Americans. And together, when you take the spending cuts and the increased tax rates on the top one percent, it puts us more than half way to the goal of $4 trillion in deficit reduction that economists say we need to stabilize our finances.”
In August 2011, Obama and House Speaker John Boehner cut a deal to give Obama an additional $2.4 trillion in borrowing authority, which Obama had entirely used up by Dec. 31. 2012. The legislation that Obama and Boehner agreed to back in 2011 also said that starting two years later, in fiscal 2013, Congress and the president would begin cutting about $1.2 trillion from the anticipated spending that the government would do in the following ten years.
Automatic across-the-board cuts in anticipated federal spending—split between defense and domestic spending--were supposed to begin on Jan. 1, if, by that date, Congress and the president had not agreed to an alternative package of equivalent cuts.
Instead, Obama and Congress made the so-called “fiscal cliff” deal, which increased federal taxes, but postponed the automatic cuts in anticipated spending until March 1, and reduced them from about $109 billion for this year to $85 billion.
When Obama was inaugurated on Jan. 20, 2009, the federal government’s debt was $10,626,877,048,913.08. As of the close of business on Feb. 14, 2013, the federal government’s debt was $16,540,800,290,147.46. Thus, since Obama has been president, the federal debt has increased $5,913,923,241,234.38. That is more than all the debt accumulated by all the presidents from George Washington through Bill Clinton.
The federal debt was last below $5.913 trillion on Feb. 1, 2002, when George W. Bush was president.
Federal spending and federal deficits have both increased sharply under President Obama. In fiscal 2008, the last full fiscal year before Obama took office, the federal government spent $2.9716 trillion. In fiscal 2012, the federal government spent $3.538 trillion.
In fiscal 2008, the federal deficit was $454.8 billion. In fiscal 2012, it was $1.2967 trillion. By this measure, President Obama did not reduce federal deficits by $2.5 trillion. He increased the annual deficit by $841.9 billion.