(CAMPAIGNSTOPS.BLOGS.NYTIMES) — Does the national debt – which has now reached a cumulative total of $15.4 trillion — pose a serious threat to the financial viability of the United States?

This is not only a debate between the left and the right; it is also a debate that pits the two wings of the Democratic party against each other, the center against the left.

At one end of the intraparty spectrum lie those Democrats who consider debt reduction a matter of key importance; at the other end are those who consider a focus on the debt ill-advised, a result of faulty analysis.

The very fact that government spending will be a key topic for the 2012 election creates a political hazard for the Democratic Party.

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