From Miami to Milwaukee, ordinary Americans are counting the cost to their own lives of the recession, which has seen the U.S. budget deficit swell to a record $1.4 trillion in the 2009 fiscal year — the biggest shortfall since World War II.


While President Barack Obama and his top advisers rack their brains over how to goad the sluggish U.S. economy back into robust growth that boosts jobs and exports and reduces debt, most citizens are still struggling to fill the gaps in their jobs, incomes and lives caused by the downturn.


While Americans were more immediately worried about keeping their jobs, homes and cars in the recession, many expressed an awareness that the huge looming bulk of the deficit was somehow intrinsically linked to the country’s problems and future.