Deficit spending rightly riles many Americans.

That is, when it’s the federal government’s deficit spending.

But few Americans are willing to take the bitter-medicine potion of spending cuts and tax hikes needed to balance Washington’s books.

As we keep postponing hard choices about entitlement reform and other costly challenges, those decisions will become ever-more difficult — and our fiscal future will grow ever-more imperiled.

Meanwhile, plenty of Americans are now going on deficit-spending sprees of their own, buying presents they can’t afford for family members and friends who often don’t want them. However, if the long-lost American art of thrift were suddenly restored during this Christmas (or if you prefer, holiday) season, our consumer-driven national economy would collapse.

Much closer to home, the Charleston County School District announced this week that it will move to “zero-based budgeting” to restore fiscal accountability after discovering an $18 million shortfall 2½ months ago.

And if you’re down to zero-based ideas about what to get folks for Christmas, or even if you’re not, consider this bargain-priced gift that keeps on giving every day:

A subscription to The Post and Courier.

Our paper’s not only informative, entertaining and even enlightening.

Those coupons in the Sunday edition can help close your financial deficits.

Another bottom-line pop test (answers at column’s end):

1) How many $18 million shortfalls by school districts, or other high-stakes operations, would it take to match the record — and rising — $18.7 trillion federal deficit?

2) How long would it take to pay off the federal deficit at one dollar per second (at zero interest, despite the Federal Reserve’s Wednesday decision to implement a long-overdue rate hike)?

3) How much deficit reduction will the latest stopgap Capitol Hill budget deal, which will be approved by week’s end, achieve?

4) How much will the new practice facility for the University of South Carolina football team cost?

5) How much does Clemson pay football defensive coordinator Brent Venables?

6) How much was the face-value price of a ticket to Clemson’s 37-32 victory over USC at Williams-Brice Stadium on Nov. 28?

7) How much is the shortfall in funding needed for our state’s dangerously deteriorating road system over the next 25 years, according to the S.C. Department of Transportation?

8) How many Republican presidential candidates joined Donald Trump during Tuesday night’s debates in Las Vegas in his continued call to prohibit Muslims from entering the United States?

9) Name the Republican debater who said of that faith-based outrage from Trump: “To all of our Muslim friends throughout the world like the king of Jordan and the president of Egypt, I am sorry. He does not represent us.”

10) Name the talk-radio star who said on his show Tuesday night: “South Carolina, what did you do to us here? You sent us this dummy? He’s not running for president. He’s running his mouth.”

11) Name the future Republican president who 153 years ago today issued General Order No. 11 — and what that edict imposed.

1) It would take 1.04 million shortfalls of $18 million to equal our $18.7 trillion national debt.

2) 592,973 years.

3) Less than zero.

4) $50 million.

5) $1.41 million per year.

6) $85 on the face of the ticket, but much more for a good seat if you had to buy one online — or from scalpers.

7) $43 billion.

8) Zero.

9) Lindsey Graham, who has zero chance at the nomination, delivered that undercard-debate slam on the noxious notion from Trump, who apparently — and appallingly — has a more than zero chance.

10) Mark Levin, aka “The Great One,” expressed his exasperation about Graham — again — while listening to our senior senator’s insights during that undercard debate.

11) Gen. Ulysses S. Grant issued General Order No. 11 on Dec. 17, 1862, for parts of Tennessee, Kentucky and Mississippi. From that document:

“The Jews, as a class violating every regulation of trade established by the Treasury Department and also department orders, are hereby expelled from the Department [of the Tennessee] within twenty-four hours from the receipt of this order.”

Grant offered this basis for his odious order in a letter to Assistant Secretary of War Christopher Walcott:

“I have long since believed that in spite of all the vigilance that can be infused into Post Commanders, that the Specie regulations of the Treasury Dept. have been violated, and that mostly by Jews and other unprincipled traders. ... The Jews seem to be a privileged class that can travel any where. They will land at any wood yard or landing on the river and make their way through the country. If not permitted to buy Cotton themselves they will act as agents for someone else who will be at a Military post, with a Treasury permit to receive Cotton and pay for it in Treasury notes which the Jew will buy up at an agreed rate, paying gold.”

President Abraham Lincoln correctly objected to that blatant violation of our nation’s founding ideals. So the order was soon revoked.

And in 1874, Grant became the first U.S. president to attend a Jewish synagogue service at the dedication of Washington’s Adas Israel Congregation.

Frank Wooten is assistant editor of The Post and Courier. His email is wooten@postandcourier.com.