This is an eye-opening post from James Fallows, in which he references a chart put together by the NY Times. Essentially, the biggest contributor to our current deficit woes is the Bush-era tax cuts, something the Republicans are in gross denial about. To quote the article from the Times:
A few lessons can be drawn from the numbers. First, the Bush tax cuts have had a huge damaging effect. If all of them expired as scheduled at the end of 2012, future deficits would be cut by about half, to sustainable levels. Second, a healthy budget requires a healthy economy; recessions wreak havoc by reducing tax revenue. Government has to spur demand and create jobs in a deep downturn, even though doing so worsens the deficit in the short run. Third, spending cuts alone will not close the gap. The chronic revenue shortfalls from serial tax cuts are simply too deep to fill with spending cuts alone. Taxes have to go up.
There is another lesson or two here. Tax cuts — so the Republicans claim — stimulate the economy, but Bush’s tax cuts did nothing of the sort. In fact, taken as a whole, tax cuts and all, Bush’s policies helped to put us into the very recession that has also contributed to the deficit.