We need to balance the budget. This is not a political opinion, it is a mathematical fact.
Once our debt gets too high our interest payments will become so high that we won't be able to pay for much else. At that point our credit rating will be so bad that no one will be willing to lend us money no matter what interest rate we offer. Once this happens we will not be able to borrow money at all and our budget will become balanced by force, meaning we will only spend what we bring in because we have no other choice.
This is the situation Greece is in right now. It is called bankruptcy and there is a high chance of the entire Greek government collapsing under this problem. Currently Greece has over 21% unemployment, and their economy is shrinking even more.
If we don't want this to happen to us we have to avoid bankruptcy.
I've seen predictions by economists that the USA has no more than three years at our current spending rate before we are bankrupt and end up like Greece.
Those of you who don't want to cut spending because of all the programs you think you need just think what WILL INEVITABLY happen to those programs if we simply continue to ignore reality until we are bankrupt as Greece has done. Those programs you love so much won't be reduced in a controlled manner in that case, they will simply cease to exist. Millions of people who now depend on welfare, social security, medicare and medicaid will suddenly be without ANY benefits in the face of the nations inability to pay for anything. Those people will be out on the streets and starving. Some or even many of them may die. This is not an exaggeration or a joke. The sudden collapse in our federal government that would occur as a result of bankruptcy will also likely trigger another recession, possibly even worse than our current one. The federal government makes up more than a quarter of our gross domestic product after all.
Everything I've seen out of our current administration, and even out of many republicans, is ideas of how to put off balancing the budget until another year. The idea here is to convince people they are doing something when actually they haven't made any real progress in balancing the budget. They argue endlessly over spending cuts in the range of 50 billion, when our deficit is 1300 billion. All we end up with is promises that some time in the future they will make big spending cuts, with no details about where those cuts will come from. This is so the current politicians can pretend to do something while not risking the unpopularity of actually proposing to cut spending on some specific program.
Our current nation debt is 15.6 Trillion, our current federal budget is 3.6 Trillion per Year, and our current budget deficit is 1.3 Trillion per Year. Interest paid on our debt per year is 222 Billion and is one of the largest items in our budget. As a comparison our total defense budget is 700 Billion.
See http://www.usdebtclock.org/ for a very detailed view of the US debt.
Here are some simple and common sense steps we can take to fix our debt crisis.
First get rid of earmarks:
This is one of President Obama's best campaign promises. Unfortunately he changed his mind about it after he was elected and he realized he could buy peoples votes for his programs by including earmarks for that persons state.
I've seen studies that suggest that up to 30% of government spending is waste, largely cause by pork barrel and earmarks.
If that is true then we could reduce our spending by up to 1.09 Trillion dollars simply by eliminating this 30% waste. This would not require the elimination of any programs or spending that actually helps anyone, it only means getting rid of wasted money.