I can sympathize with the deficit hawks, since I too think that Congress (which really controls the purse strings) has been living like a kid with daddy's credit card for far too long, and a string of Presidents have been letting them get away with it. Adding services and lowering taxes look good for you at election time, but it racks up debt like crazy, and before someone accuses me of being a wacky conservative tea-bagger, I blame Ronald Reagan for this mess. He was the one who made it okay to raise the budget while lowering taxes and keep it up year after year. He thought he'd be able to cut back the entitlement programs like the modern tea partiers, but he was never able to pull it off. Good luck, ya mooks.
Anyway, I see a series of things that need to happen now.
- Set a binding rule (with like a 2/3rds majority needed to break it or something else atrocious) that there can be no new spending programs and no expansion of existing programs as long as we're carrying a debt. That means that existing programs can't offer new services or reduce the qualifications to be enrolled.
- Go through the various Federal programs, especially the big entitlement programs, and decide how much needs to be spent on them. Cut if you think the country will tolerate it, make each one as efficient as possible, vote, and move to the next one.
- Determine how much all of that is going to cost.
- Revise and simplify the tax system, creating a revenue stream sufficient to pay for everything, plus enough extra to actually start paying down the debt.
- When the economy recovers, keep the tax rates the same. Don't squander good times by cutting back the revenue stream; work on the debt hardest when you're in the best position to do so!
Basically, if you don't have the guts to cut the budget (and I really don't think they do), at least have the guts to raise enough money to cover it.