Congressional Research Service. January 23, 2013.
Total federal debt can increase in two ways. First, debt increases when the government sells debt to the public to finance budget deficits and acquire the financial resources needed to meet its obligations. This increases debt held by the public. Second, debt increases when the federal government issues debt to certain government accounts, such as the Social Security, Medicare, and Transportation trust funds, in exchange for their reported surpluses. This increases debt held by government accounts. The sum of debt held by the public and debt held by government accounts is the total federal debt. Surpluses reduce debt held by the public, while deficits raise it. The recent economic slowdown led to sharply higher deficits in recent years, which led to a series of debt limit increases.
http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/RL31967.pdf [PDF format, 37 pages].
Congressional Research Service. May 31, 2012.
The gross federal debt, which represents the federal government’s total outstanding debt, consists of two types of debt: (1) debt held by the public and (2) debt held in government accounts, also known as intragovernmental debt. Federal government borrowing increases for two primary reasons: (1) budget deficits and (2) investments of any federal government account surpluses in Treasury securities, as required by law. Nearly all of this debt is subject to the statutory limit. The federal debt limit currently stands at $16,394 billion.
http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R41633.pdf [PDF format, 26 pages].
Congressional Research Service. March 2, 2012.
An array of budget process reform proposals are put forth each year seeking to refine or modify the existing constitutional requirements, laws, and rules that make up the federal budget process. This report identifies, tracks, and explains current budget process reform proposals reported from committee, or considered on the floor during 2012. The proposals are organized into categories related to the existing budget process. When appropriate, a brief description of the current process is provided.
http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R42383.pdf [PDF format, 11 pages].
Office of Management and Budget, The White House. February 13, 2012.
The Budget of the United States Government is a collection of documents that contains the budget message of the President, information about the President’s budget proposals for a given fiscal year, and other budgetary publications that have been issued throughout the fiscal year. Other related and supporting budget publications are included, which may vary from year to year. The totals for the current and upcoming fiscal years are only projected amounts. Annual budget documents provide Congress, State and local governments, and the public with a complete description of the president’s budget plans for the coming fiscal year.
http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/Overview [HTML format with links to sections].
http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/budget/fy2013/assets/budget.pdf [PDF format, 256 pages].