This term refers to a government
budget that has enough revenue
to offset expenditure
s. This is not as cut and dried
as it might seem, since organizations such as the United States
government do not use Generally Accepted Accounting Principles GAAP
. Such a government can 'balance' a budget by selling an asset to a private corporation and leasing it back (at a greater cost in the long run). A private company would show the money as income but reflect the loss of a valuable asset as a liability. This is not necessarily the worst abuse, merely one of the simplest examples to explain.
Politicians often try to point to a Balanced Budget as a demonstration of fiscal responsibility. A private corporation would not be ashamed to spend more than it took in if the money was invested in assets which would benefit future earnings, but the oweners would be very unhappy if they did not pay off debt when the economy was doing well and they did not invest in assets, unless it was in one of those industries which actually do better when the economy is doing poorly. Such counter-cyclical industries do exist.