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Obama On Debt: "We Don't Have To Worry About It Short Term"

President Obama addressed the debt and deficit, saying it is not a problem in the "short term," during an appearance on CBS's "Late Show" with host David Letterman. Obama also said he did not know what the national debt was when he took office.

When a concerned Letterman asked him about the debt, Obama laid the responsibility for the U.S. national debt and deficit on his predecessor former President George W. Bush.

"Well, here's what happened. We had a surplus when Bill Clinton was president," Obama said. "It was projected to continue to be a surplus. We decided to launch two wars on a credit card. We cut taxes twice without finding offsetting costs for it or ways to pay for it, a prescription drug plan and then we had a massive recession."

"When I walked into office we had a trillion dollar deficit, debt had mounted and then we had to take a bunch of emergency measures, that cost money, saving the auto industry, making sure that the financial system got back on track," Obama said.

"So now what we've got to do is we've got to pare down that deficit, get that debt under control and I think the only way we've ever been able to do that effectively is when you do it in a balanced way," Obama explained.

When asked if he remember what the national debt was when he entered office, President Obama said "I don't know what the number was precisely." Obama told Letterman "we don't have to worry about it short term."

"A lot of it we owe to ourselves. Because if you invest in a treasury bill or something like that then essentially you're loaning the government money. In fact, the majority of it is held by folks who live here, but we don't have to worry about it short term," Obama said.

"Right now interest rates are low because people still consider the United States the safest and greatest country on earth, rightfully so, but it is a problem long term and even medium-term. And so we're going to have to take care of this debt and deficit, but we've got to do it in a balanced way," he added.

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