Tom Scocca has a great post explicating in more depth the kind of frame change I'm looking for. He puts less emphasis on the destructive rivalries among the have-nots than I did with that story.
A sample from Scocca:
The debt—the runaway debt—has nothing to do with morality. Casting the debt as an object of moral concern is the work of minds that have come detached from human experience. The debt is an epiphenomenon. It is the side effect created by the specific moral decisions about what the country wishes to see funded, and how it is willing to fund those things.Read the whole thing.
Talking about the deficit is a way of cutting morality out of the discussion. Waste! Mismanagement! Incompetence! Unaccountable earmarks! These things are noise. The actual questions are: is money to be spent on people who do not have money? And where is that money going to come from?
There are people who do not have money. Some of them do not have money because they are children. Some of them do not have money because they are old or sick or otherwise unsuited for the labor market. Some of them do not have money because the labor market has stopped paying for the work that they know how to do in the places where they live. Robots and other machines can approximate the things these people used to do.
There are other reasons, too, which can seem less sympathetic. Some people prefer to spend their time obtaining and using mind-altering substances. (Other people may or may not classify that as being "sick.") Some people—some people—lack the personal initiative to get work. And so on. These people, nevertheless, also do not have money.