How big is our big deficit?

A contentious debate in D.C. is how to tame the ballooning budget deficit. What measures -- spending cuts, tax hikes -- are needed? Money magazine looks at how we got here and how big our debt really is.

Budget deficits are bipartisan affairs
Budget deficits are bipartisan affairs
The deficit, or the gap between what the federal government collects and what it spends, has plagued Democratic and Republican administrations alike.

Policy shifts like tax reform and new programs matter, but so does the economy: A booming one tends to shrink the deficit; recessions bring stimulus spending and lower tax revenue owing to less economic activity.

By Susie Poppick @Money - Last updated May 14 2012: 12:24 PM ET
Join the Conversation
The budget: Is Uncle Sam just an insurance company?

Democrats and Republicans are arguing fiercely over the proper size of the government. Money magazine looks at the facts -- how much we're spending and what we're spending it on.

Find Homes for sale
  • Property Type
  • Find a home in:
    New York | Atlanta | Chicago | Los Angeles
    Washington D.C | Houston | Philadelphia | More options
Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.