The US economy posted an annual growth rate of only 1.8 percent in the first quarter of 2011, and declines in government spending were a significant contributor.
GOP proposals to cut the federal budget range from $100 billion to $500 billion to a symbolic $1.5 trillion. With Democrats wary of stifling the economic recovery, the divide just may be too wide.
Increasing the debt limit guarantees that the US will pay the debt it has – it doesn't stop the government from going deeper into debt. That requires unpopular policy changes.
The tax cut deal that President Obama signed Friday costs $858 billion, making the cause of deficit reduction that much more challenging. But deficit hawks still see some hopeful signs.
Politicians from the left and right have responded with knee-jerk objections to the report from the co-chairs of President Obama's deficit commission. It's time for the adult conversation to begin.
On Wednesday, 56 Democrats and one Republican said that any effort to reduce the federal debt needs to include defense cuts. They called for an independent commission to take up the issue.