Ken Connor

The situation is close to reaching a boiling point. Congress can only pass so many stop-gap budget measures. In the end, it will likely come down to a game of political chicken. Do Republicans have the courage to derail this runaway train, or will the Beltway establishment be successful in their efforts to cloud the issues? Former Congressman and likely presidential candidate Newt Gingrich has been down this road before, and his message for Republicans is clear: Stick to your principles, even if it means a government shutdown, and despite the political consequences:??

"Our attempt to balance the federal budget was distorted in the news media as an effort to ruin family vacations, frustrate visitors to the nation's capital and prevent government employees from going to work. . . . Nonetheless, the ultimate result was the first four consecutive balanced budgets since the 1920s, paying off more than $450 billion in federal debt. . . . The lesson for today's House Republicans is simple: Work to keep the government open, unless it requires breaking your word to the American people and giving up your principles. Becoming one more promise-breaking, Washington-dominated, sellout group is a much worse fate ? politically and ethically ? than having the government close for a few days. . . . Another shutdown of the federal government is not an ideal result, but for House Republicans, breaking their word would be far worse." ??

If someone doesn't step up and take a risk to stop America's runaway debt and deficit train, the whole country will go over the cliff. Undoubtedly, it will take courage, fortitude, determination, and a rhino hide to start cutting the budget in a meaningful way, but if we don't, what's the alternative? Regardless of what Nancy Pelosi seems to believe, there will be very REAL consequences for inaction on this issue. America cannot continue on this course of reckless irresponsibility without suffering the consequences: national bankruptcy, compromised security, and the certain loss of America's status as an economic and political superpower. And should America fall into mediocrity there will certainly be a rapid move to fill the void. Does our President wish to see China rise to prominence as the world's only superpower because we lack the discipline and vision to get our fiscal house in order? Perhaps Ms. Pelosi would prefer an international community dominated by a consortium of oil sheikhs, or perhaps a South American despot like Hugo Chavez? ??

As fond as the Left may be of casting America as the world's great villain, they should be careful what they wish for. Without America's political and moral example in the world (reinforced by our economic and military power), any hopes for the continued advancement of global political liberty and universal human rights would be greatly compromised. It will be a tragedy if these preventable outcomes come to pass because our representatives are too short-sighted, self-centered, and cowardly to set-aside politics as usual in favor of decisive and meaningful action.??The time for posturing and rhetoric is over.

If we don't get serious, and fast, it will soon be too late to stop this runaway train.

Ken Connor

Ken Connor is Chairman of the Center for a Just Society in Washington, DC.