Most of us budget our money, make sure we pay the bills we gotta pay and then spend or save what's left according to our needs or wishes. All well and good, but why doesn't our federal gov't do the same? We should all live within our means, true? Well why shouldn't they? Historically, gov't spending at the federal level runs about 18.5%, these days it's up to about 25%. One of the things I want to see out of the debt ceiling negotiations is some kind of deal for spending caps, the gov't should not exceed say 19% or even 20% of the expected GDP for that fiscal year. I'd pay down the debt with any surpluses and require shortfalls to be paid for the following year. They can then work out how to best spend that money, starting with the non-discretionary stuff first. Usually revenue goes up year over year if your economy is okay, but I'd only allow a hike in tax rates if you could garner a two thirds vote on it in both chambers of Congress. I think this would necessitate more scrutiny of functions done at the federal level that are better handled by the states, and also cut more fat to have money for more needed programs. I know we've already got some form of pay-go, which has all but been ignored. IMHO, emergencies can arise and should be funded, but bypassing the spending cap has to be strictly limited. I'd require a two thirds vote in both chambers to do that too. Bottom line - do not allow Congress or the president to spend more than we take in, or at least close to it. I don't know of another way to restore some semblance of fiscal discline.