President Bush and challenger John Kerry have both pledged to reduce the nation's budget deficit while bringing down taxes.
Some budget analysts say neither man's plan is likely to work. One non-partisan group, The Concord Coalition, says both plans would raise the deficit by a total of $1.3 trillion over the next 10 years.
The Kerry plan calls for raising taxes on Americans making at least $200,000 a year, while giving cuts to those in the middle-class. Extra revenue under the plan would be used to pay for health care, education, energy, and job creation programs.
The Bush plan would not create any major new programs but would make permanent the sweeping tax cuts passed by Congress over the past four years. Mr. Bush has said any increase in taxes would have a negative impact on those who create jobs, and hurt the entire economy.
Analysts say in both cases, the government would take in far less money than it spends.
The nation's fiscal climate is far different than it was in 2000, when the presidential candidates argued over how to best spend a surplus.
Four years later - after a recession, two wars, and the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks - the nation's annual budget deficit hovers around $400 billion.