While still trying to get through this phony show on the budget, Congress and the president will soon be arguing about the national debt. Obama says that he regrets his vote against raising the national debt limit while he was a senator. Of course he does, because it makes him look like a hypocrite. He voted against it while Bush was president, but now he is president, so things change.
You can view the national debt in several places. You can try here or here. They will vary a little bit as they are estimates. The current debt ceiling is just under $14.3 trillion. It is projected that it will be hit sometime in May.
If the government doesn't raise the debt limit before the ceiling is reached, then maybe we really will have a government shutdown. It would be even better if we saw some kind of a default, although that is not likely. In fact, it is unlikely that Congress will fail to raise the debt ceiling. Despite the bickering between the two major parties, they really are in cahoots with each other. The Republicans will pretend like they want cuts. Obama and some of the Democrats will say that children and elderly people will be starving in the streets. The two sides will come to an agreement, just in time to save the world.
The two parties even count votes. If there is a Republican who was elected on a tea party platform, he may be permitted to vote against raising the debt limit. If the vote is too close, the establishment may require that he vote in favor of it. If that happens, he will say that this is just a start and that they won because of the "cuts" in government spending that were achieved.
For any politician who really wants a balanced budget, then they should simply vote against raising the debt limit. It really is that simple. We hear that it is just not possible, but that's not true. It's just not politically possible for most of these people (Ron Paul is usually the lone exception).
If the government brought all troops home, ended the Department of Education, ended all farm subsidies, ended all foreign aid, ended the Department of Energy, ended the FDA, and ended all corporate welfare, then the budget would close to balanced. This is just a beginning and we haven't even touched Medicare and Social Security yet. But, of course, this is impossible in the eyes of the typical politician and even many Americans. This is why it continues.
These continual votes on raising the debt ceiling are a joke. It really isn't a debt ceiling if it keeps getting raised. The true debt limit is the limit imposed by the U.S. dollar. The Fed will keep buying debt until it faces the threat of massive inflation or hyperinflation. At that point, we will hope that the Fed quits buying government debt in order to save the dollar. Then it won't matter what the debt limit is. Congress will not be able to deficit spend any longer. They will be forced to cut back and it will be much more painful then.