Donald Lambro

Speaking for the president, who didn't want to get his hands dirty in another budget debate, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner accused Boehner of delivering an ultimatum that would trigger another credit rating crisis.

"This commitment to meet the obligations of the nation, this commitment to protect the creditworthiness of the country, is a fundamental commitment you can never call into question or violate," Geithner said.

"We hope they do it this time without the drama and the pain and the damage they caused the country last July," he added.

Sen. Charles Schumer of New York, the mouthpiece of the Senate Democrats, said: "It is pretty galling for Speaker Boehner to be laying down demands for another debt ceiling agreement. The last thing the country needs is a rerun of last summer's debacle that nearly brought down our economy."

But Boehner is suggesting no such thing should happen in the course of legislating another massive increase in the Swiss cheese debt ceiling in the Age of Obama.

He's merely suggesting that if Obama wants to sharply raise the debt ceiling yet again, this time by $2 trillion or so, it should be accompanied by additional spending cuts.

Here's what Boehner actually said that newspapers like the Washington Post buried near the end of their story on Wednesday:

"Yes, allowing America to default would be irresponsible. But it would be more irresponsible to raise the debt ceiling without taking dramatic steps to reduce spending."

Sounds reasonable to me, but not to Democrat leaders like Schumer who have never seen a domestic spending increase bill they didn't like.

Neither has Obama who paid lip service Wednesday to a "serious, bipartisan approach" to reducing the budget deficit. But if you are looking for any progress on cutting spending under this president, don't hold your breath.

If you have been paying careful attention to Obama's re-election campaign speeches lately, it is clear what he is peddling: more government spending. That's what both his presidency and agenda is all about:

More heavily-subsidized student loans, more bailouts for underwater mortgages, and more money for dozens of agencies and programs under his massive health care takeover that will cost trillions of dollars in the decades to come.

Nowhere is Obama proposing to reform Medicare to keeping it from tumbling over a fiscal cliff into insolvency, or addressing Social Security's coming bankruptcy when tens of millions of baby boomers will be showing up at the sign in window within this decade.

Right now the government is spending nearly $4 trillion a year, and under the spending trajectory Obama has put us on, that will grow to more than $5 trillion well before this decade is over.

In my 1980 book, Fat City: How Washington Wastes Your Taxes, the first paragraph said this:

"Our federal government has become a bloated, extravagant, paternalistic, remote, cluttered, disorganized, inefficient, frivolous, duplicative, archaic wasteland."

The budget at that time was about $600 billion, a small fraction of what it has grown into today. The many dozens of needless, outdated and unaffordable programs I listed as ripe for the axe are still there, bigger, more costlier and more wasteful than ever.

We still await a reformer who can come into office with a plan to eliminate, downsize, consolidate, overhaul and in some cases privatize programs that government has no business doing.

It is a populist agenda that would win the support of the people whom, polls show, list the deficits and debt among their highest concerns. How about it, Mitt Romney?


Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.