Drowning in Debt: What the Nation's Budget Woes Mean for You

Ultimately, analysts say, solving the debt problem will likely require both tax hikes and spending cuts, along with broader structural reforms of the way government operates.

"Habitually spending more money than you make is irresponsible," said Walker. "Irresponsibly spending someone else's money when they're too young to vote or not born yet is immoral."

Future generations of Americans will largely foot the bill for the present financial predicament, economists say.

The United States currently owes over $12 trillion to its debtors – that's more than fifteen $787-billion economic stimulus packages worth of cash. Divided out, each American bears a $40,000 share of the country's tab.

"The American people today are not remotely prepared for the changes that are necessary," said former Congressional Budget Office director Rudolph Penner.

He says Americans who have been accustomed to buying on credit and living beyond their means at home may soon face a painful reality as the government tightens its belt further.

"They aren't hearing about the drastic changes needed, and they certainly didn't hear about it in the President's budget," Penner said.

President Obama's $3.8 trillion budget request for 2011 represents an increase in government spending by more than $100 billion over last year, yet projects slight decrease in the budget deficit over the year before to $1.267 trillion.

While deficit spending is widely regarded as a necessary evil during times of recession to revive and stimulate the economy, the President has acknowledged it's time to rein in that practice.

Obama has touted as "steps forward" both a proposed freeze on some discretionary spending in fiscal year 2011 and the creation of a bipartisan fiscal commission to make recommendations for long-term deficit reduction.

"The president has taken a very bold act," said White House economic adviser Christine Romer on "Good Morning America" today. "He has said we want a non-security dscretionary spending freeze that is pretty unpopular with his own party, but he thought it was important to make one of those tough choices."

Federal Deficit: 'Paygo' as Solution?

On Saturday, the president also signed into law new "pay-as-you-go" rules, which require lawmakers to match each spending increase with a spending decrease or a new source of revenue.

So-called "paygo" was largely credited with helping to balance the federal budget and lead to surpluses in the 1990s.

"The American people are tired of politicians who talk the talk but don't walk the walk when it comes to fiscal responsibility. It's easy to get up in front of the cameras and rant against exploding deficits. What's hard is actually getting deficits under control. But that's what we must do," Obama said Saturday.

Still, economists say that while Obama's plans may help curb deficit-spending in the near future, they don't do enough to solve the structural problems and skyrocketing expenditures of massive government entitlement programs like Medicare and Medicaid.

"The basic outline [of Obama's plan] is appropriate, but we reach out for the 'magic aspirin' in the form of a [budget] commission" and I'm just not sure if that will work, said Robert Reischauer, former director of the Congressional Budget Office and president of the Urban Institute, a nonpartisan economic research center.

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