I've heard both sides of this argument. It's going to take us a century to pay down the national debt, and the only way we can start to do that is with a balanced budget. Financial responsibility should be enshrined in the Constitution. California has done this in their own way, and it's worked. Budgets are now passed on time, and we are now on track to have a Surplus (which can pay down our debt)! As long as spending only grows with the economy, we can still do what needs to be done with many federal programs, and get ourselves out of this mess.