We all agree on the facts: the national debt is closing in on $13 trillion  and our fiscal practices have been irresponsible for years. With that starting point, we can all come to both an understanding of the gravity of the situation  and the realization that difficult decisions  and sacrifices will have to be made to get our economy back on track and restore the overall satisfaction of Americans to comfortable levels.
In a speech  earlier this month to the Dallas Regional Chamber on the nation's fiscal crisis, Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke said that "to avoid large and unsustainable budget deficits, the nation will ultimately have to choose among higher taxes, modifications to entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare, [and spend less] on everything else from education to defense, or some combination of the above."
That's a combination which sparks my interest. For which services can spending be reconfigured without sacrificing quality? Which services merit continued high budget allocations? What other options and resources could be called on to sustain high quality? Addressing this challenge  is a task I think will take patience and massive amounts of creativity: qualities which Americans have in abundance but haven't been encouraged to tap into for a long time.
Emily Anstaett is a student at the University of Cincinnati and an intern at the Washington office of Public Agenda .