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US national debt crosses $16 trillion

September 05, 2012 09:59 IST

DollarsThe US national debt crossed all time high of $16 trillion on the day the Democratic Party kicked off its three-day convention, during which President Barack Obama would accept nomination to seek presidential reelection in November.

Republicans immediately pounced on the new debt figure to push their candidate Mitt Romney to the White House.

"This is a serious threat to our economy. Of all the broken promises from President Obama, this is probably the worst one because this debt is threatening jobs today.

"It is threatening prosperity today, and it is guaranteeing that our children and grandchildren get a diminished future," Paul Ryan, the Republican vice-presidential candidate, said immediately afterwards at a campaign speech in Iowa.

The just concluded Republican National Convention had a debt clock.

"We have a very clear choice ahead of us. Are we going to stick with the same path -- a nation in debt, a nation in doubt, a nation in decline -- or are we going to elect Mitt Romney president, get this thing turned around, cut spending, balance the budget and create jobs? That's what we're going to do!" Ryan said.

A US presidential aide said that Obama, during his acceptance speech here on Thursday, would be 'more specific' than Romney's in detailing a path forward on deficit reduction and will emphasise tax fairness over Medicare.

"President Obama has left Americans worse off than when he took office, with chronic unemployment and declining incomes.

But it's not just this generation that's paying the price -- the next generation has been saddled with enormous debt because of President Obama's policies.

"As president, Mitt Romney will take immediate action to cut spending and stop passing our bills on to our children," Ryan Williams, Romney Campaign spokesman said.

"Today is yet another shameful benchmark in the Obama administration's fiscal record.

"With Senate Democrats refusing to pass a budget and our gross debt eclipsing the size of our economy, the need for a change in leadership is greater than ever," Senator John Cornyn, a member of the Senate Budget Committee said.

Senator Lindsey Graham said that during Obama's first term he's accumulated over $5 trillion in debt and will soon accumulate more debt than all previous presidents combined.

"And if you think it's bad now I hate to say it's only going to get worse," he alleged.

House Republican Policy Committee Chairman Tom Price said that Obama had promised to cut the deficit in half during his first term.

"Instead, the American people have gotten four straight years of deficits exceeding $1 trillion and an increase in the national debt of $5 trillion, the largest amount accrued during one term of any president," he said.

"Obama believes that Washington must spend money it does not have in order to create jobs and enact his vision for America's future.

"But after failed stimulus programmes, preferential industry bailouts and Washington picking winners and losers in the economy, 23 million Americans are unemployed or underemployed and the jobless rate in America has remained at or above eight per cent for 42 straight months," he said.

Republican Senator Bob Corker said that with the debt crossing $16 trillion, the national debt is now over 100 per cent of nation's gross domestic product.

"Doing so is going to require pro-growth tax reform combined with a long-term plan to restore solvency to entitlement programmes, especially Medicare and Social Security," he said.

"A fiscal reform plan including these reforms would alleviate much of the uncertainty which has been holding back the private sector investment necessary to create jobs, grow the economy, and allow us to focus on being a great nation," Croker said.

Lalit K Jha in Charlotte (North Carolina)
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