Recently, particularly since the rise of the Tea Party a few years ago, there has been a near-obsessive focus on the Right regarding the deficit and debt. They often portray balancing the budget as the panacea that will lift our economy up and drive us to prosperity.
But when it comes time for Congress to cut the budget, Democrats and Republicans have come together to cut the types of spending that do not truly affect the deficit, and promote growth by investing in infrastructure and human capital, but allow them to say “we slashed the deficit by $X billion”
If we are going to actually balance the budget or at least start to meaningfully shrink it, there has to be a cooler environment around the debt politics. When any increase in revenues is off the table and the introduction of cost-saving mechanisms in Medicare near-impossible for political reasons, rhetoric regarding the need to balance the budget will continue to result in cuts to the types of programs that we actually need rather than addressing the factors driving the deficit.