WASHINGTON -- The debt crisis in Europe that momentarily sent global stock markets into a nosedive was but a preview of what our government faces if we do not end our own spending binge.
For decades, Europe has been on a welfare-state joyride that now threatens to bring down the economy and currency of the European Union, which was forced to shoulder $1 trillion in added debt to save some of its members from bankruptcy and economic collapse.
The news focus has been on that action and whether Europe can wean itself from a welfare-state culture that has burdened its peoples with suffocating debt and taxes that will inhibit growth and threaten its future solvency.
But the news focus here should be on our descent into an ocean of debt that also threatens our own economic future for generations to come.
The national government debt is now over $12 trillion (more than $39,000 for every citizen) and if we do not change course, could be more than $20 trillion by the end of this decade.
Driving this debt is federal spending that has accelerated at a furious rate under the Democratic-run Congress and the Obama administration -- yielding unprecedented annual budget deficits that have forced the government to borrow at historic levels.
"This year's deficit is expected to reach $1.5 trillion, which would mark the third straight record annual deficit. The administration projects the deficit will remain above $1 trillion in 2011 and will not drop below $739 billion over the next decade," Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn said in a Senate speech.
"The federal government is now borrowing 43 cents for every dollar it spends. Some $4.8 trillion of the $9 trillion in debt the government will likely accrue over the next 10 years will be interest," the conservative Republican said.
But Democratic leaders have shown little or no concern for the mounting debts that threaten the foundations of our country. Instead of cutting back and tightening the government's belts, they are doing just the opposite of what most Americans have been forced to do in a weakened economy.
They've passed a so-called economic stimulus package that cost us more than $1 trillion, followed by a national health care plan whose price tag will likely come in much higher than that.
They have approved double-digit spending increases for fat-filled duplicative agencies and programs riddled with waste, abuse and mismanagement, Coburn says.