A balanced budget is a budget in which receipts equal (or exceed) outlays. Fiscal conservatives, such as George H. W. Bush favor balanced budgets, while more liberal polticians do not. In the United States, every state except Vermont has laws that require a balanced budget and most local governments are also required to balance their budgets. The Federal Government has no such requirement and may incur a budget deficit.
There are conservatives, such as Bruce Bartlett (a former domestic policy adviser to President Reagan), who oppose a Federal balanced budget. Bartlett argues that a balanced budget amendment would be nearly impossible to enforce. Bartlett, as well as most liberals, also claims that forcing a balanced budget in times of economic downturns would worsen the economy, but that is a Keynesian notion that has been proven false.