One of the most pressing issues facing our nation these days is the federal government’s massive budget deficit. The deficit and its implications for the already prodigious national debt have been front and center in the national discourse as a $315 billion surplus in 2001 has gradually transformed into an $885 billion deficit in 2013 under the weight of tax cuts, healthcare policy changes, and spending tied to the War on Terror, Wall Street “bailouts,” the 2009 economic stimulus, and the oft-forgotten interest continuing to accrue on amounts already owed. With each looming debt ceiling, fiscal cliff, and sequester, the unfortunately partisan debate gains vigor, begging the question of whether we’ll find a solution before we run out of nifty nicknames for the various kick-the-can crises encouraged by our infighting and indecision.
There are plenty of proposed solutions out there – both practical and inane – coming from a variety of sources – from the Brookings Institute to Esquire Magazine’s Commission to Balance the Federal Budget. But evaluating the efficacy of a potential remedy, of course, necessitates making a proper diagnosis first.