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It looks like the Obama administration is taking this deficit thing seriously. The fiscal hole for this year is expected to reach $1.6 trillion, and the total public debt is $12.39 trillion, which is an amazing tab considering that the economy ran a surplus as recently as 2001. To put that in perspective, consider that the deficit is about 10.6 percent of the economy, which is not that far from the 12.7 percent level of Greece. Like Greece, the United States wants to bring its debt down to 3 percent or less, which is the limit for members of the EU and is considered a proper benchmark for fiscal sanity. So far, Greece has had a rough time coming up with a workable plan. The government is pointing fingers at bankers and currency speculators, and members of the public, especially the young, has disavowed any responsibility for the mess. Strikes and street protests have followed, and the confrontations between police and angry, unemployed demonstrators with no faith in the future are increasingly rough. The EU is demanding tough budget cuts, but it's hard to see how the public will accept them. What lies ahead? It won't be pretty.

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