The Treasury Department said Wednesday that the federal debt has climbed to a record $15 trillion — a staggering figure that caps a precipitous decade-long rise.

The exact total stood at $15,033,607,255,920.32 as of the end of business Tuesday, marking a jump of $56 billion over Monday’s tally. All told, federal debt has risen $4.407 trillion since President Obama took office. It stood at $5.7 trillion in 2001, when George W. Bush moved into the White House.

“Today marks an infamous day in American history,” said House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, Wisconsin Republican.

The announcement was made a day before Congress was poised to pass a bill >that would continue the high rate of spending into 2012, and as a special committee continued to talk about ways to slow the steep rise in deficits projected for the foreseeable future.

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