Well so much for that.

Looking back, it is laughable to imagine that there ever was this whole notion that there was going to be a perpetual surplus, that the question of the hour was whether to "rein it in" by only half a trillion dollars, or by a trillion and a half.

Naturally, all of this arguing was before we knew that the nation was gearing up to incur $7 trillion in war debt over the next decade and change, or that trillions more dollars in bailouts and handouts and safety nets and "foreign aid" were on their way out the door. History happens.

This presents a perpetual psychological problem. The nation, like a household, racks up debts, and when it comes into a bit of money, such that its income for a month exceeds its expenses for that month, it acts, its people act, as if this signals a permanent guarantee of future excess income. And so, plans are immediately made to spend all this excess income, in perpetuity (forget paying off any existing underlying debt). And, naturally, everybody in the household gets in on the spending-the-excess act, without paying much attention to what the others are doing along the same lines, so that the same excess is spent many times over by many different members of the household.

The moral of this story, really, is that there simply is no such thing as a "surplus" so long as there is a debt. There is only the danger of the rhetoric of mislabeling something as such.