If I were you, I would print out this post by Felix Salmon and pull it out whenever you confront some bozo who's railing about the deficit and insisting that we have to put old ladies on a cat food diet to fix the problem:
* Federal taxes are the lowest in 60 years, which gives you a pretty good idea of why America’s long-term debt ratios are a big problem. If the taxes reverted to somewhere near their historical mean, the problem would be solved at a stroke.
* Income taxes, in particular, both personal and corporate, are low and falling. That trend is not sustainable.
* Employment taxes, by contrast—the regressive bit of the fiscal structure—are bearing a large and increasing share of the brunt. Any time that somebody starts complaining about how the poor don’t pay income tax, point them to this chart. Income taxes are just one part of the pie, and everybody with a job pays employment taxes.
* There aren’t any wealth taxes, but the closest thing we’ve got—estate and gift taxes—have shrunk to zero, after contributing a non-negligible amount to the public fisc in earlier decades.
And, not incidentally, income tax revenue would go up and spending would decrease if unemployment went down.
These deficit liars are trying to get people to believe that the deficit is caused by massive increased spending (and the bad economy is therefore caused by the deficit) and it just ain't true.