Washington is wracked this year by intense budget politics. Spurred by the conservative Tea Party movement, Republican lawmakers point to the federal government's $14 trillion debt as an emergency that demands big cuts in domestic programs, including Social Security, plus tax cuts they say will spur economic growth. But Democrats say government spending is needed to sustain the economy while the private sector struggles back to health. They call for government investment in infrastructure and education, plus tax increases to strengthen programs such as Social Security for future generations. A decade ago the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office predicted that the federal government would run a $796 billion surplus in 2010, but that rosy future never materialized. Over the past 10 years, a severe recession, tax cuts and spending on two wars put the federal government, and also the states, deeply in the red.