Exploding Deficit Becomes Sore Issue in Washington

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WASHINGTON -- The government estimated the U.S. economy grew at a 5.7 percent rate in the fourth quarter of 2009, exceeding expectations.

However, the good news has been overshadowed by the massive explosion of government spending in Washington.

Exploding Deficit

Senate Democrats have voted to let the U.S. government go $1.9 trillion deeper into debt. However, Senate Republicans voted against raising the debt limit.

With government debt on the rise, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell made the red ink a key point of his response to President Obama's State of the Union address.

"The amount of debt is on pace to double in five years, and triple in 10," McDonnell said. "The federal debt is now over $100,000 per household. This is simply unsustainable."

Washington is now spending so much more than it takes in, that it has to borrow 40 cents of every dollar it spends. This constant overspending has become one of the biggest concerns for voters.

Some say it was a major reason for Republican U.S. Senator-elect Scott Brown's upset victory in Massachusetts, which Obama referred to as Democrats running into a buzz saw.

"That buzz saw was the American people saying 'Stop, we've had enough of this,'" House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said.

Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., added, "Enough is enough. It's time to put our fiscal house in order."

The president is proposing a spending freeze that he says will help deal with the debt.

"Like any cash-strapped family, we will work within a budget to invest in what we need and sacrifice what we don't," Obama said in Wednesday night's State of the Union Address.

Critics say since the freeze exempts the biggest budget items. They also noted that it won't take affect until next year and won't really be effective.

"It's time to make the tough decisions this year," Pence said.

If nothing changes, the federal government is set to hit a record national debt of $14.3 trillion. That's more than $45,000 of debt for every man, woman and child in the U.S.

Unless there is radical change in Washington's spending habits, it's only going to go higher in the years ahead.

*Original broadcast January 29, 2010. 

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Paul  Strand

Paul Strand

CBN News Washington Sr. Correspondent

As senior correspondent in CBN's Washington, D.C., bureau, Paul Strand has covered a variety of political and social issues, with an emphasis on defense, justice, and Congress.  Follow Paul on Twitter @PaulStrandCBN and "like" him at Facebook.com/PaulStrandCBN.