Get A Rare Look Inside The Actual U.S. Treasury Auction Room - Where The $14T National Debt Goes For Love
Video: CBS Evening News special report...
Solid clip that includes debt and deficit totals for every president since Reagan.
The Treasury Auction room is the control center for government borrowing. CBS News Senior Business Correspondent Anthony Mason has been one of a few outsiders ever allowed inside.
"That room is essentially the American credit card machine. It's basically selling treasury bills, basically IOUs that we use to pay off the money that we are borrowing," Mason says. "I found that room kind of spooky. If we can't issue those IOU's - which keeps the government running on a day-to-day basis - then we can't run the country anymore. We don't have the money."
In the 1983 State of the Union speech, President Ronald Reagan said, "the deficit problem is a clear and present danger to the basic health of our republic." At that point the deficit was $207 billion. The national debt was $1.4 trillion.
The government will collect $2.3 trillion in taxes this year. That's well short of the $3.6 trillion it will spend. Fifty-five percent of that spending will go to mandatory expenses like social security, Medicare and Medicaid; 43 percent is called discretionary spending. That's money Congress controls and allocates to more than two dozen government departments. Two percent of the budget goes to Congressional pet-projects or earmarks.
"This government is too big and spends too much," President Bush said at the 1992 State of the Union address. At that time the deficit was $290 billion. The national debt was $4 trillion.
In the 1995 State of the Union address, President Clinton said, "Should we cut the deficit more? Well, of course we should. Of course we should." The deficit was $164 billion then, with the national debt at $4.9 trillion.
"Together we can restrain the spending appetite of the federal government, and we can balance the federal budget," President George W. Bush said in his 2007 State of the Union Address. The deficit was $160 billion at that point, with the national debt running at $8.9 trillion.
"We will work within a budget to invest in what we need and sacrifice what we don't," President Obama said in his 2010 State of the Union Address. The deficit is now $1.5 trillion, and the national debt is $13.8 trillion.