Obama met with more than a dozen economic advisers, appearing with them briefly before retreating for a two-hour closed meeting. The new deficit numbers were the latest sign of an economy in decline, with foreclosures rising, home prices falling, soaring energy prices and nearly a half-million job losses since January.
"It was not an accident or a normal part of the business cycle that led us to this situation," Obama said. "There were some irresponsible decisions that were made on Wall Street and in Washington."
Obama said the economy needs both short- and long-term fixes, including another round of "stimulus" measures from Congress to revive the economy and a longer-term focus on renewable energy to curb high gas prices and on universal health care to trim costs. He said he would move "rapidly and vigorously" to respond.
Present at the meeting in Washington were AFL-CIO President John Sweeney, former treasury secretary Paul O'Neill, former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker, former New Jersey Sen. Bill Bradley, Google chairman and CEO Eric Schmidt and New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine, the former head of Wall street investment firm Goldman Sachs. Billionaire investor Warren Buffett joined via speaker phone.
Republican John McCain said the culprit for the deficit was the administration's wasteful spending.
"There is no more striking reminder of the need to reverse the profligate spending that has characterized this administration's fiscal policy," McCain said in a statement issued Monday.