President Obama on Tuesday ignored the issue of the nearly $19 trillion national debt in his final State of the Union speech, a contrast from his first speech in 2010 when he pledged to tackle the debt.
He did give a brief nod to the annual budget deficit, which soared in his first term to more than $1 trillion a year, and since then has been reduced again to $400 billion. Obama took credit for "cutting our deficits by almost three-quarters."
But he ignored the rising total national debt, even though in his first speech in 2010, Obama was much more aggressive toward the debt. Then, he admitted adding to the national debt in order to get the country out of the Great Recession, but said he would soon take steps to reduce it.
"[W]e took office amid a crisis, and our efforts to prevent a second depression have added another $1 trillion to our national debt," he said in 2010.
"I'm absolutely convinced that was the right thing to do, but families across the country are tightening their belts and making tough decisions," he said. "The federal government should do the same."
He said he was ready to freeze federal spending for three years, although his later budget proposals would seek more and more funding.
"[U]nderstand, if we don't take meaningful steps to rein in our debt, it could damage our markets, increase the cost of borrowing, and jeopardize our recovery, all of which would have an even worse effect on our job growth and family incomes," he said in 2010.
"Let's invest in our people without leaving them a mountain of debt," he said.