Donald Lambro

WASHINGTON -- The American economy, for some inexplicable reason, has been pushed to the sidelines in the fierce debate over a fiscal crisis that threatens to shut down much of the government.

The House and Senate's war of words has largely been about dangerously high deficits, debts and spending levels that could push our government to the brink of insolvency.

But the declining health of our economy should be at the core of this debate, because its weakness under the administration's anti-growth policies is one of the chief reasons for the astronomical rise in the deficits and debt. How we deal with this crisis will determine the future health of our economy for generations to come.

To be sure, Republicans have tried to keep the focus of the debt-ceiling battle on future economic growth and job creation, but more often than not the debate has turned on spending statistics and which special-interest programs are going to be cut and how deeply.

For the White House and the Democrats on Capitol Hill, this fight is all about preserving as much of big government as they possibly can get away with.

You rarely hear President Obama defining the budget discussion in terms of getting the economy moving again, because that would only remind Americans that Obamanomics has been an abysmal failure.

Instead, he and his allies have shamelessly played the fear card, often framing the issue in terms of Social Security checks not going out and Medicare payments halted.

But the outcome of this fight is all about our economy and whether our country will be the everlasting land of opportunity where jobs are plentiful, businesses thrive, retirement funds grow, and the suffocating burden of deficits and debt are lifted from the backs of the American people and their enterprises.

The private sector is weak to a significant extent because deficits and debts have dried up investment and capital for individuals and businesses, and increased pressure to raise taxes that are already squeezing family budgets and businesses large and small -- forcing layoffs and paralyzing future hiring.

Notably, the two parties in this debate have been offering widely disparate solutions to the mess we have gotten ourselves into.

President Obama and the Democrats are calling for higher taxes on businesses and people earning over $200,000 a year (many of them small-business entrepreneurs who may employ a few workers but can hardly be considered rich).

Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.