A day of reckoning is coming for Republicans and conservatives, and it is approaching rapidly.
Thanks to a series of natural disasters, unspeakable acts of terrorism and the responses to them, this country is headed beyond a mere budget crisis. We're drifting toward to a five-alarm financial fiasco.
And like Nero, who fiddled while Rome burned, attention is focused on issues like the Senate's hand-wringing about the Supreme Court seats to be filled. Meanwhile, huge sums of money are necessarily committed to restoring what's left of the Gulf states after Hurricane Katrina.
Here's an example of how quickly the tab is mounting up. Over a period of around five days last week, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers put out a request for proposed bids to clean up debris in the areas impacted by Katrina. Before those five days were done, five contracts for $500 million each had already been awarded. That's $2.5 billion doled out in no time flat.
This spotlights the painful budgetary collision between spending that's unavoidable and spending that's discretionary. The problem is that no "discretion" is being exercised.
Public opinion surveys show that it's not just Democrats who are expressing concern about the growing federal deficit. Many Republican and conservative responders to polls are also starting to say they think spending is getting out of control.
As I've previously written, we can't pay for every need of senior citizens, build new highways all across the continent, bankroll the most sophisticated military in history, rebuild entire regions of America following one hurricane after another, keep terrorists from crossing our borders, donate money to needy foreign peoples and also keep everything else running as smoothly as we're accustomed -- at least not without a massive tax increase of some sort.
Readers of my column know that I have known and personally like former President Clinton, even though we come from opposite sides of the political aisle.
While I generally praise him for being a reasonable Democrat, I have to respectfully disagree with his current suggestion that we must eliminate the tax cuts passed under President Bush.
The capital gains tax cut that was passed by Newt Gingrich and the Republican Congress and allowed to become law by President Clinton in the mid-1990s helped spur the economic heydays of the 1990s, including the great stock market expansion of that time.
In like fashion, the tax cuts proposed by President George W. Bush and passed by the Republican Congress helped rescue us from the recession that Bush inherited when he took office.