By Erik Wasson
The government's fiscal 2012 has now come to a close and the score is in. The budget deficit for 2012 was $1.1 trillion, the fourth year of trillion-dollar deficits under President Obama.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said Friday that the $1.1 trillion shortfall, based on Treasury statements, was about $200 billion less than in fiscal 2011. But part of this difference is due to a timing shift that put some final payments in 2011 because Oct. 1, 2011 fell on a weekend.
The deficit has become a major issue in the presidential campaign.
Obama pledged to cut the annual deficit in half in his first term, and during Wednesday night’s debate, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney took him to task for the ballooning shortfalls.
During the debate, Romney did misstate some facts about the deficit, saying that Obama had doubled the annual deficit and that trillion dollar shortfalls are projected into the future by CBO.
CBO expects the deficit to fall next year to $641 billion in its baseline scenario and to fall to $387 billion in 2014. However, this forecast assumes that America goes over the "fiscal cliff," allowing scheduled spending cuts and tax increases to occur.
If Congress simply punts on these, and does not find replacements, the deficit would be $1.03 trillion in 2013 and $924 billion the next year, CBO says.
Republican lawmakers used the CBO numbers to attack the president.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) used the CBO number to blast Obama's budget, a barebones version of which was voted down unanimously in the Senate.
"Americans have been looking for leadership from the White House, and while the President claims to have offered a ‘balanced and comprehensive deficit reduction’ approach, his plan was so unserious that it was rejected by every single member of Congress," he said.
"President Obama famously promised to cut the deficit in half and today's report shows that his pledge amounted to nothing more than more empty campaign rhetoric," Kevin Smith, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), said.
Senate Budget Committee Ranking Member Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) said Obama's $4 trillion budget cutting plan is based on phony numbers. He has pointed out that the deficit reduction relies on budget cuts from 2011, savings from not continuing the ended Iraq war and calculated interest.
"The President says ‘budgets matter’ as he campaigns around the nation serially repeating the falsehood that his budget reduces deficits by $4 trillion. But his dangerous budget achieves no credible deficit reduction, adding $11 trillion to our debt and increasing spending 58 percent from today’s levels," he said.
— Last updated at 3:46 p.m.