McCain, the Republican candidate, blamed the administration's wasteful spending, saying there was a need to reverse the trend in the current fiscal policy.
"As president, I have committed to balancing the budget by the end of my first term," he said following the White House announcement on the deficit on Monday.
The economic slowdown is the leading issue among US voters who are facing rising mortgage foreclosures, falling house prices, skyrocketing fuel and energy costs and the loss of nearly 500,000 jobs so far this year.
Democrats have criticised the Bush administration for squandering budget surpluses and nearly doubling the national debt, from $5.6 trillion when Bush took office in 2001, to more than $9.5 trillion.
|Obama, centre, wants a long-term focus on renewable energy [Reuters]
Obama, the Democratic candidate, said the ballooning debt was a result of "some irresponsible decisions that were made on Wall Street and in Washington".
"We can't afford, I believe, to keep on doing the same things we've been doing," he said at a Washington meeting with more than a dozen economic advisers on Tuesday.
"We have to change course, and we have to take immediate action."
Obama said the short- and long-term fixes include another round of "stimulus'' measures to revive the economy, and a longer-term focus on renewable energy and universal healthcare to trim costs.
The White House also predicted that the US economy would grow at a rate of 1.6 per cent this year and at 2.9 per cent next year.