Secretary of State Hillary Clinton waded into the nation's fiscal debate Wednesday, calling the expected $1.3 trillion U.S. deficit a "message of weakness internationally."
"It poses a national security threat in two ways: it undermines our capacity to act in our own interest, and it does constrain us where constraint may be undesirable," Clinton said during a question-and-answer session after a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations, according to Reuters.
The deficit for 2010 is nearly $1.3 trillion through August, the Congressional Budget Office said on Thursday. With just one month in the fiscal year remaining, the CBO said the deficit should be less than last year's $1.4 trillion shortfall, a record in nominal dollars. CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf has said that the debt, expected by his office to grow by nearly $1 trillion annually over the next decade and by increasingly larger amounts in years beyond, is on an unsustainable path.
Budget experts attribute much of the projected long-term debt growth to rising healthcare costs.
Clinton said she didn't want to "relitigate" the cause for the large deficits, but mentioned policies pushed by former President George W. Bush as one reason.
"It is fair to say that we fought two wars without paying for them and we had tax cuts that were not paid for either, and that has been a very deadly combination to fiscal sanity and responsibility," Clinton said.