The two parties have been locked in a battle for about a year now (if not longer) over the budget deficit.  Is that really what we should be arguing about?  Is that really what the issue is.  I say no, and that is not what what we should be arguing about.

First, the real issue should still be economic growth and jobs.  The recovery still is continuing, but it sluggish.  The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), which keeps track of these things, marked the official end of the recession as June 2009, but we all know that economic growth has been sluggish since then, with real GDP growing at about 2% way below what we'd expect coming out of a severe recession like we faced in 2007-09.  Also, the unemployment rate, a lagging indicator, has been dropping steadily, but still is high at 7.7% and this is in part because we have been shedding many public sector jobs (nearly a million recently).  So fiscal austerity by federal and state governments have slowed the pace of the recovery.

Second, the budget deficit is falling, and quite rapidly.  The deficit, 11.1% of the GDP in 2009 (according to the CBO) is projected to have fallen nearly in half by this fiscal year (FY2013) to 5.3% and to 3.7% in FY2014 and 2.4% in FY2015.  So, really, we don't have a budget deficit problem, do we?  Not in the short run.  Everyone knows we have a long run budget deficit problem, but our problem in the short run is the economy, not the budget deficit.

When policymakers on the Hill fixate on the "deficit" what they are really trying to do is say they want to cut spending because they don't like the spending, and don't like government.  And doing this is bad for the economy.