Last week, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its updated budget and economic outlook for the next 10 years. The report found that the budget deficit for Fiscal Year 2012 will exceed $1 trillion. Before coming to office, President Obama promised the American people that he would cut the deficit in half by the end of his first term. But as the CBO report highlights, the only thing that 4 years of the President's failed policies has achieved are record budget deficits and a sputtering economy.
The highest deficit ever recorded prior to President Obama taking office was $458 billion. Yet, in the four years of this Administration deficits have averaged $1.28 trillion per year. These trillion dollar deficits are equal to nearly $10,000 of debt per year for every single American household for four straight years. These record deficits and failed policies have ballooned our national debt, and the CBO report found that today's federal debt held by the public has reached levels not seen since shortly after World War II. In 2007, public debt equaled approximately 36 percent of our Gross Domestic Product. Today that number is an astonishing 73 percent.
CBO's budget and economic report is further evidence of the President's failure to lead our nation during a time of economic difficulty. His stimulus failed. Unemployment has remained chronically high. We have now had 43 straight months where the unemployment rate has exceed 8 percent, the longest stretch in the post World War II era. An economic recovery that only succeeds in forcing millions of Americans to stop looking for work all together, while also heaping trillions of dollars of debt on the backs of current and future taxpayers, cannot be called anything but an astonishing failure.
The complete failure of the President's fiscal policies was further highlighted last week by news stories which found that the President's failed stimulus included hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars wasted on television commercials touting the President's "green training" program. In 2009, in the midst of our most difficult economic crises since the Great Depression, the Department of Labor used stimulus funds to pay for commercials on two primetime news programs on MSNBC. These ads aired 14 times per week for two months. Unsurprisingly, Department of Labor reports show that these television commercials produced exactly zero jobs.
The CBO report also highlighted a troubling fact that the President has steadfastly chosen to ignore. Pending tax increases, coupled with harmful spending cuts to vital programs like defense, set to take effect in 2013 would send our economy back into recession and drive unemployment above 9 percent. House Republicans have passed legislation to stop these tax hikes and replace automatic sequestration with more measured spending cuts that do not harm our national defense and economy, but the Senate and White House have refused to act.
Our nation cannot afford to confront the consequences of inaction. Yet, President Obama and the Democrat-controlled Senate have refused to take action to avoid this impending fiscal cliff. The White House has predicted economic growth of 2.7 percent next year; however, CBO estimates that the massive tax hikes, coupled with sequestration, would cause our economy to contract by 3.0 percent in the first half of 2012 alone. Failure to act and avoid this fiscal cliff would turn the Obama recovery from the slowest recovery in modern history to the most unnecessary and avoidable recession imaginable. CBO's report simply reemphasizes what nearly every American already knows. Our economy is struggling as businesses and consumers alike are faced with economic uncertainty. It is time to remove that uncertainty, reduce the tax burden on the American people, and make sure that the money our federal government spends goes towards protecting our nation and the rights enshrined in our constitution, not for television commercials and empty promises.