In recent years policymakers have pushed the economy ever closer to the brink of fiscal catastrophe. Federal spending rose substantially under President George W. Bush, with the deficit reaching $460 billion in his last full year. In President Barack Obama's first two years in office, it soared to $1.4 trillion in 2009 and $1.29 trillion in 2010. Deficits are on track to remain at unprecedented levels in 2011, and President Obama's promise to halve the deficit by 2012 turned out to be the same "politics as usual" that he denounced during his campaign. Even if he made good on that promise, deficits would still be twice as high as ever before.
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