OBAMA: "Our deficits are now coming down so quickly that by the end of this year, we will have cut them in more than half since I took office." â¿¿ Sept. 20 speech at Ford plant near Kansas City, Mo.
THE FACTS: Yes, but.
When Obama took office in January 2009, the deficit he inherited was $1.4 trillion. The Congressional Budget Office recently estimated it will be $642 billion for the budget year ending Monday, down by roughly half since Obama became president.
An estimated $78 billion of that deficit reduction comes from automatic across-the-board spending cuts, called sequestration, that began taking effect in March â¿¿ over Obama's protests. As well, tax increases early this year have brought in more revenue. The economic recovery also has resulted in higher tax payments.
Deficits, though, don't tell much about the country's total indebtedness because they only represent a one-year comparison of revenues and spending.
While annual deficits are declining, the national debt â¿¿ the accumulation of deficits going back to the days of George Washington â¿¿ is still rising. It stood at $10.6 trillion the day Obama took office. It's now $16.7 trillion, according to the Treasury Department's Bureau of the Public Debt.
Thus, the national debt has increased by $6.1 trillion under Obama â¿¿ the largest increase to date under any president, and a reflection in part of the deep recession early in his first term. The next highest was the $4.9 trillion added to the debt during the eight-year presidency of George W. Bush. Despite shrinking deficits, the debt is still rising because the U.S. government still must borrow 19 cents of every dollar it spends.
OBAMA: "Raising the debt ceiling is not the same as approving more spending, any more than making your monthly payments adds to the total cost of your truck. You don't say, 'Well, I'm not gonna â¿¿ I'm not gonna pay my bill, my note for my truck because I'm gonna save money.' No, you're not saving money. You already bought the truck, right? ... So raising the debt ceiling, it doesn't cost a dime. It does not add a penny to our deficits. " â¿¿ Speech at Ford plant.