These will be 8 years of (hard to sell) austerity, during which it will be hard to both pay interest on the National Debt, pay down the principal on the National Debt, and also pay for social progress (such as National health care or poverty alleviation programs.)
This was deliberate, premeditated vandalism. Republicans hate it when the government has money, because that enables Democrats to make people's lives better with that money. The country's fiscal situation before Bush took office had the Republicans panicked: had Gore taken office and stuck to his "pay as you go" discipline, the entire national debt would have been paid off by mid-2006.
Had that happened, the government would today be running a surplus. But, Gore didn't take office: Bush did. And the moment he did, he set about the project of (deliberately, I believe) saddling the country with such enormous, crushing debt that no progressive initiative could be fully funded for years, perhaps decades, after he left office.
As Paul Krugman said in today's column:
Looking at the tax proposals of the two presidential candidates, it’s remarkable and disheartening to see how effective President Bush’s fiscal poison pill has been in restricting the terms of debate.
Interest payments on the national debt last year were $406 Billion. That would fund national health care, poverty alleviation programs, reviving our national passenger rail system (this particularly is an urgent priority)...
But, no: Republican vandals made good and damned sure that no money could be spent for these things - and all so the country club set could add a helipad to their yacht while continuously screwing their workers. Awesome job, Republicans.