The idea is to get through recessions fast, get the economy burning again, then pay for it. What happened instead is that the get the economy burning got sidetracked by a congress that all of a sudden was worried about spending that they never cared before(a cynical person would suggest this was for political reasons, with further evidence by those same people's reaction to the automatic spending cuts). The other thing to remember is that the US is not going to go broke today, tomorrow, next year, or even next decade unless something catastrophic happens outside of what we can predict. We do have to fix the debt. When the economy is good, you pay off the spending from when the economy us bad. We also have to understand that a problem 50 + years in the making is not going to be solved overnight, nor does it have to be. If spending grows slower than the economy, then the problem will, slowly but surely, go away. If you slowly cut spending while the economy is good, that speeds things along.