The problem is that when the term "budget cut" is banded about in conjunction with "balance budget", it means government austerity, which the worst prescription for an economy still reeling from a deep recession. Likewise, raising taxes to balance the budget in a recession will complicate an economy on the mend. In other words, budget cut plus tax increase equals an ailing economy having a relapse.
While a balanced budget is a lofty goal for a government operating on assets based on full faith and credit, it is simply an ideal. It is the result, not of a zero sum game but of prudent spending and judicious taxing by those in power. The president and congress, rather that trading barbs on revenues and expenditures, should debate government investments and tax reforms.
The federal government should be a beacon of efficiency and effectiveness by prudently spending on infrastructures and investments. Yes, there should be spending cuts of those ineffective and inefficient programs and bureaucracies but savings should be diverted to improving effectiveness such as investments on technology. No austerity required, only congress reflectively looking at their pet programs, earmarks, and pork barrels and diverting funds to worthy causes. Necessary layoffs could be absorbed by a recovering private sector. No effective cut on spending, only better budget result.
The current tax code is utterly dysfunctional. If there is a opportunity to take advantage of the current budgetary crisis, it is to reform the tax code and make it more just and utilitarian. Expedient filing and collection should increase revenue without raising taxes as they are currently structured. No tax increase, only better budget result.
It is time for government appointment of department and program officials to be managers instead of political appointees. Their mission should be simple and clear: to serve and to be efficient.