Donald Lambro

WASHINGTON - Hold on to your wallets and put your savings in a safe place, because Congress returns next week from its month-long August recess.

The most unpopular institution in America, whose job approval polls have sunk into the low teens, left behind a fiscal mess that includes a mountain of wasteful spending, a nearly $17 trillion debt, and once again the threat of a government shut down.

Throw in an administration that is incapable of passing a sensible year-to-year budget-cutting plan and putting our nation on the road to economic recovery, and you have the spendthrift time bomb that awaits lawmakers when they come back after the Labor Day weekend.

There's lots of blame to go around, but most of it rests with President Obama's big spending policies that dished out hundreds of billions of dollars in the hope of jump-starting the economy and creating lasting jobs. It didn't.

Soon after he became president, Obama promised "to cut the deficit we inherited in half by the end of my first term in office."

Instead, he gave us an unending line of unprecedented deficits:

$1.4 trillion in 2009; $1.3 trillion in 2010; $1.3 trillion in 2011; and over $1 trillion in 2012.

We're on track this year to add nearly three-quarters of a trillion dollars to that debt, forcing the Treasury to borrow ever increasing sums of money, and further bleeding our economy of the investment capital it needs to restore and revitalize itself. When Obama's term ends in 2017, he will have presided over the largest expansion of government debt in our nation's history.

For the past four and a half years, his answer to all of this has been to raise taxes and spend ever more money on pet programs:

More public works projects, more federal aid to education and social welfare programs, billions for alternative energy schemes (many to line the pockets of his supporters), and a national health care system whose price tag is in the trillions.

But the economy isn't stronger, it's weaker, growing at an estimated 1 percent in this third quarter -- well below previous recoveries. Weaker economic growth rates mean weak tax revenues and that, too, results in higher deficits and surging debt.

The federal government's insatiable appetite for more and more of the nation's income is a planet-sized anchor around our economy's neck. We are seeing the results in our daily lives. Fewer good-paying, full time jobs, and a bearish stock market that's been tanking, eroding worker retirement savings week by week.

This is the grim situation Obama faces when Congress reopens for business next Tuesday. It's only answer: raise the debt limit and borrow more money.

Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.