Federal Deficit Highest Since 1940s

In 2011, the federal government spent $41,210 every second that it didn't have.

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The federal deficit is higher than it has been since the 1940s, in the years immediately after World War II.

A new visual from the "Face the Facts USA," a non-partisan election project from George Washington University, shows the federal deficit has risen significantly under President Barack Obama, and that the government is increasingly spending money it doesn't have.

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In every second of 2011, for example, the government spent $114,253—even though it was only taking in $73,043 in revenue. According to Face the Facts, that means the federal government spent $41,210 every second that it didn't actually have.

The deficit this year, however, looks as if it will be lower than it was the day President Obama assumed office.

Using data from the Office of Management and Budget, the visual also points out that the only time in recent history the deficit has approached this level was during the 1980s recession.

An ad released by the Obama campaign Tuesday sought to stave off criticism about the president's handling of the deficit. Titled "Worried," the ad argues that Obama was the only candidate who had a plan to reduce the deficit, by having "millionaires pay a little more" in taxes. GOP candidate Mitt Romney, the ad said, would only make the deficit worse.

Romney campaign spokesman Ryan Williams told ABC News of the ad: "President Obama's tax hikes are the last thing we need in a struggling economy."

Romney has said on a number of occasions he would cut federal spending as president in order to close the budget gap.

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  • Elizabeth Flock is a staff writer for U.S. News & World Report. You can contact her at eflock@usnews.com or follow her on Twitter and Facebook.