I believe balancing the budget would be extremely difficult unless there is a drastic change in government spending - where they invest and how they monitor their investments.
There are quite a few countries in the world which are in debt, so it's not unusual for the United States to be in debt, especially with their massive spending. So long as there is such a large investment in the army and military, I believe there will always be a large and growing debt in the US. It's about a return on investment. If the country and it's leaders are prepared to invest, they need to invest somewhere with a positive return on investment - whether it be through foreign investment or within the US through roads and infrastructure.
Massive spending cuts may help, although deciding on different ways the money can be spent would be just as worth while as choosing to spend less. Investing or rather, spending in this case, towards something which is guaranteed to provide a positive return will result in balancing the budget and reducing the overall debt of the US economy. Investing money into banks which are already on the brink of collapse will only lead to wasted funds, especially while the bail out funds are being channeled elsewhere to upper management and executives.
The list of where the money can and should be invested is endless. At the end of the day, it's about where the funds are invested and not spending more than you can afford to pay back. There is a need for a radical change, a government who is prepared to take risks and who is willing to implement and stick with reform.