President Obama once asked a campaign crowd in 2008 what to do when you're trying to get out of a hole. Uniformly, the crowd responded: stop digging.
Yet three years into his term, the president is digging a deficit hole that so far is deeper than the one he complained President George W. Bush had dug during his eight years in office.
From the time Bush took office in January 2001 to his departure on Jan. 20, 2009, the debt increased $4.9 trillion -- from $5.73 trillion to $10.63 trillion. The debt now stands at $15.57 trillion, up $4.94 trillion since Obama took office less than four years ago.
When Obama was campaigning, he called the debt increase under Bush "irresponsible" and "unpatriotic."
"The way Bush has done it over the last eight years is to take out a credit card from the Bank of China in the name of our children, driving up our national debt from $5 trillion for the first 42 presidents -- number 43 added $4 trillion by his lonesome, so that we now have over $9 trillion of debt that we are going to have to pay back -- $30,000 for every man, woman and child," he told voters in North Dakota.
The federal budget Obama sent to Capitol Hill last month projected the debt to reach $16.3 trillion in 2012 and $25.9 trillion in 2022.
Reporters grilled White House press secretary Jay Carney on Tuesday during the daily briefing about the administration's criticism of GOP Rep. Paul Ryan's budget plan, wondering if that's fair while having a perceived credibility problem of his own.
"We put forward a very clear plan that achieves over $4 trillion in deficit reduction," Carney responded..
Bill Wilson, president of Americans for Limited Government, criticized the president for adding "more debt in a single term than any president in American history."
"By the time his fiscal year 2013 spending has fully gone into effect, Obama will have added a full $5.823 trillion to the debt," he said. "Obama cannot blame his predecessors. By his policies alone ... Obama will have increased the national debt by 46.9 percent by the end of calendar year 2012."