This chart, by Reason columnist and Mercatus economist Veronique de Rugy, is worth looking at for a long time—like one of those 3D posters, gaze with deep focus until you see the secret spaceships or dolphins come alive in the data.
From the writeup:
Data from the President's FY2012 budget shows historical amounts of federal government borrowing on the dollar from fiscal year 1980 to present day. Positive amounts represent budget deficits or the amount by which total government spending exceeds total revenues during a specified period.
Today, 43 cents of every dollar spent is borrowed; this amount is about 4 times the rate in 1980. Between 2007 and 2011 alone, the rate has increased 38 cents per dollar. At this pace, the historical trend of deficit spending continues at a distressing rate.
The government ran a budget deficit in every year from 1980 to 1997, and continued this trend in 2001 and onward. The surplus that finally emerged in 1998 was produced by increased tax revenues that a sustained economic expansion generated; and without the aid of increases in tax rates.
As critical debate over the debt ceiling continues, the amount of spending that is borrowed should be put in proper perspective. A continued proliferation of federal spending won't help to contain the debt.
And check out Ron Paul's ad about how past deals on raising taxes and cutting spending have worked out:
And while you're at it, read "Five Uncomfortable Facts About the Wonderful, Horrible Debt-Limit Debate."
And then, for a laugh, read the 2009 classic, "Obama: Tomorrow We Scrimp, but Tonight We Spend Like There's No Tomorrow."
And there's this roundup of polling by Ed Morrissey of Hot Air about whether the debt ceiling should be raised. The short version? Respondents are against an increase by a 2-to-1 margin.