The Treasury Department said Wednesday that the federal debt has climbed to a record $15 trillion - a staggering figure that caps a precipitous decade-long rise.
The exact total stood at $15,033,607,255,920.32 as of the end of business Tuesday, marking a jump of $56 billion over Monday's tally. All told, federal debt has risen $4.407 trillion since President Obama took office. It stood at $5.7 trillion in 2001, when George W. Bush moved into the White House.
"Today marks an infamous day in American history," said House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, Wisconsin Republican.
The announcement was made a day before Congress was poised to pass a bill that would continue the high rate of spending into 2012, and as a special committee continued to talk about ways to slow the steep rise in deficits projected for the foreseeable future.
None of those efforts would cut the debt, but would slow the rate of growth.
Republicans say that underscores the need for immediate spending cuts to get a handle on the budget.
They said Congress will have that chance this week when the House votes on a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution.
Democrats were silent on the $15 trillion debt milepost, though on the broader issue of deficits they say the economy is so weak that it needs more spending in the short term.
In the longer term, they argue, government cannot be cut down to the size it was for most of the post-World War II era, and instead must raise taxes to pay for all of its promises such as Social Security and Medicare while funding defense, education, food stamps and other basic domestic needs.
Mr. Obama has proposed several debt-reduction plans this year, but Republicans have rejected each of them for not tackling the long-term growth of entitlement programs and instead relying too heavily on taxes. In contrast, House Republicans' budget this year focused on entitlements and didn't increase any taxes. Senate Democrats haven't brought a budget to their chamber floor in more than two years.
That leaves the two parties deadlocked, as borrowing continues apace.
Mr. Obama is averaging a debt increase of more than $1.5 trillion a year during his term in office, compared with an average of $612.4 billion for Mr. Bush and $192.5 billion a year under President Clinton.
By late Wednesday, the House and Senate Republican campaign committees began to use the debt figure in attacks on Democrats seeking election next year.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who is seeking the Republican presidential nomination, said the new figure underscores the need for a fiscal conservative to bring "responsibility back to our nation's capital."
What? Wasn't George W. Bush supposed to be a 'fiscal conservative?'
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*** Pat Buchanan:
Posted by (onetime Republican presidential candidate) Patrick J. Buchanan
November 14, 2011
Is a vote for the Republican Party in 2012 a vote for war?
Is a vote for Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich a vote for yet another unfunded war of choice, this time with a nation, Iran, three times as large and populous as Iraq?
Mitt says that if elected he will move carriers into the Persian Gulf and "prepare for war." Newt is even more hawkish. America should continue "taking out" Iran's nuclear scientists - i.e., assassinating them - but military action will probably be needed.
Newt is talking up uber-hawk John Bolton for secretary of state.
Rick Santorum has already called for U.S.-Israeli strikes: "Either we're going to stop them ... or take the long-term consequences of having a nuclear Iran trying to wipe out the state of Israel."
But if Iran represents, as Bibi Netanyahu is forever reminding us, an "existential threat," why does not Israel itself, with hundreds of nuclear weapons, deal with it?
Bibi's inaction speaks louder than Bibi's words.
He wants the Americans to do it.
For the retired head of Mossad, Meir Dagan, calls attacking Iran "the stupidest thing I have ever heard of." He means stupid for Israel.
Why? Because an Israeli attack would be costly in planes and pilots and only set back Iran's nuclear program. And such a preemptive strike would unify Iranians behind the regime.
Moreover, Israel would be inviting Tehran's ally Hezbollah to rain down rockets on Israel, igniting another of the bloody Lebanon wars that Israel was desperate to end the last time.
As for the United States, the only way we could eliminate Iran's nuclear program would be days of air and missile strikes.
Iran could retaliate by cutting off oil exports and mining the Strait of Hormuz, tripling the world price of oil, and hurling the European Union and United States into recession.
Iran could also turn Hezbollah loose on Americans in Lebanon and urge Shias to attack U.S. troops, diplomats, and civilians in Bahrain, Iraq, and Afghanistan, and here in the United States.
No one knows how this would end. A U.S.-Iran war could force us to march to Tehran to remove the Islamic regime and scour that huge country to ensure that it was shorn of weapons of mass destruction - for an Islamic regime that survived a U.S. war would be hellbent on acquiring the bomb to pay us back. Yet we lack a large enough army to occupy Iran.
And why should thousands more Americans have to die or come home to be fitted for metal limbs so Israel can remain sole proprietor of a nuclear weapon from Morocco to Afghanistan?
And where is the hard evidence Iran is acquiring nukes?
The U.S. intelligence community declared in December 2007, with "high confidence," that Iran was no longer seeking nuclear weapons. It has never rescinded that declaration.
And there is no conclusive evidence in that media-hyped report last week from the International Atomic Energy Agency that Iran is for certain building nuclear weapons. Indeed, that report was exposed as the work of incompetents within hours.
Relying on intelligence agencies, the IAEA said a top Russian nuclear weapons scientist had been instructing Iranians for years. The scientist turns out to be V.I. Danilenko, who has no expertise in nuclear weapons, but is a specialist in using conventional explosives to produce nanodiamonds for the manufacture of lubricants and rubber.
Are we being lied and stampeded into yet another war by the same propagandists who gave us the yellowcake-from-Niger forgeries?
Bibi calls Mahmoud Ahmadinejad another Hitler and says we are all in 1939 again. But is this credible?
True, Ahmadinejad hosted a Holocaust conference featuring David Duke and said Israel should be wiped off the map, but he does not control Iran's military, has lost favor with the ayatollah, and has been threatened with impeachment. Ahmadinejad is a lame duck with less than two years left in his term. Is mighty Israel afraid of this man?
Told that the IAEA said Iran was actively pursuing nuclear weapons, Ahmadinejad laughed: "The Iranian nation is wise. It won't build two bombs against 20,000 [nuclear] bombs you [Americans] have."
Does he not have a point? How would an Iranian bomb secure Iran, when Israel's nuclear arsenal would be put on a hair trigger, and Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt would then rush to get their own bombs?
In that South Carolina debate, Ron Paul, the one person there proven right on Iraq, was given less than 90 seconds to speak.
Under the Constitution, said Paul, no president has the right to launch an unprovoked attack on Iran without congressional authorization.
Before America goes to war with Iran, let Congress, whose members are forever expressing their love for the Constitution, follow it, and vote on war with Iran. And before we go to the polls in 2012, let's find out if the GOP is becoming again the same old War Party that bankrupted the nation.
COPYRIGHT 2011 CREATORS.COM
Bill Bonner is the President & Founder of Agora Inc, an international publisher of financial and special interest books and newsletters.
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