President Obama says he wants a "balanced" approach to the fiscal cliff. But critics argue the real problem is spending, which has far outstripped rising tax revenue as well as economic growth.
Federal government revenue rose from $1.7 trillion to $2.4 trillion from fiscal 1998 to 2012, slightly exceeding inflation. Revenue growth averaged 2.9% annually, despite two recessions, bear markets — and tax cuts.
But federal spending rose nearly twice as fast — 5.7% per year — surging from $1.6 trillion to $3.5 trillion over that same span.
The spending spike also exceeds growth in the population.