How much do you actually care about balancing the US federal budget? Democrats bludgeoned the Republicans with the issue in 2006, and Republicans did the same to the Democrats in 2010. Yet does either side actually give a damn about it? I certainly haven't seen any evidence to suggest that they do.
The Democrats talked a lot about the deficit in 2006...but they promptly increased spending and cut taxes when Barack Obama was elected. Please don't misunderstand me; I'm well aware that the bailouts and economic stimulus were absolutely vital for the short-term health of the economy. However, they've also done absolutely nothing to address the problem in the medium-term. The Democrats have put forward no credible plan to stop the growth of entitlements. And now Barack Obama is saying that he wants to compromise with Boehner to extend the tax cuts.
...which brings us to the Republicans. The Republicans (especially the Tea Party) shrieked a lot about the deficit for the past few months. Yet what is their most pressing concern? Extending tax cuts for the wealthy. Are they going to cut (or even PROPOSE to cut) any major program by any amount that actually matters? John Boehner and Eric Cantor have both been asked that question in the last few days...and they've punted, which makes it obvious that the answer is no.
Personally I have mixed feelings on the issue. It's certainly not as big of a deal as the out-party constantly makes it out to be. Even after the nastiest recession in generations, our debt-to-GDP ratio is still relatively low. In the short-term, I'm the first to argue for as much deficit spending as possible to stimulate our economy. However, our medium- and long-term budget deficit is a problem. I don't think we need a plan to completely balance the budget in the medium term...but we should work on developing a plan to keep it to no more than 1-2%. That way, we'll at least be able to grow our economy faster than we grow our debt.