On the day Obama was inaugurated, the national debt stood at $10.626 trillion. Currently the debt is about $14.275 trillion. According to Obama's speech today, he's now proposing to cut deficits by $4 Trillion over 12 years.
So in other words, he's proposing to reduce deficits over the course of the next 12 years by close to the same amount by which the debt rose in the first two years of his Presidency.
Of course, if you listened to the President's remarks, he crafted a lengthy narrative to explain how Republicans and Democrats came together in the 90s to create a surplus before things went haywire:
When I took office, our projected [annual] deficit was more than $1 trillion. On top of that, we faced a terrible financial crisis and a recession that, like most recessions, led us to temporarily borrow even more. In this case, we took a series of emergency steps that saved millions of jobs, kept credit flowing, and provided working families extra money in their pockets. It was the right thing to do, but these steps were expensive, and added to our deficits in the short term.
I understand the President is declined to defend his policies, but the idea that roughly doubling the astronomical rate we were plunging into debt was the right thing to do is not at all a given. (Notice that the President did not use the word "stimulus" once during the speech.)
Now it's true that Ryan is proposing to reduce deficits by $4 trillion over 10 years -- but given how much more aggressive Ryan's plan is in the long-term, that should only underscore how difficult it is to reduce the deficit in the short-term. It only serves to highlight how damaging Obama's spending policies have been thus far.