"It's time to stop worrying about the deficit -- and start panicking about the debt," the Washington Post editorial began. "The fiscal situation was serious before the recession. It is now dire."
The editorial continued:
"In the space of a single fiscal year, 2009, the debt soared from 41 percent of the gross domestic product to 53 percent. This sum, which does not include what the government has borrowed from its own trust funds, is on track to rise to a crushing 85 percent of the economy by 2018."
What are the risks of an exploding U.S. public debt?
The Chinese, Japanese and Arabs still buying that debt will begin to suspect they are holding onto paper on which the United States will default, or will cheapen by inflating its currency -- as the Germans did in 1923 to avoid paying war reparations.
When they do, they will stop buying U.S. debt and start dumping. The Fed will then have to raise interest rates to attract borrowers, throwing the economy into a tailspin.
Is Congress even aware of what is happening?
Harry Reid is talking about doubling Medicare rolls to include folks 55 to 64. Facing a second straight $1.4 trillion deficit, Congress is moving to raise the debt ceiling by another $1.8 trillion.
And the lead story in the Post Monday began:
"The Senate cleared for President Obama's signature on Sunday a $447 billion omnibus spending bill that contains thousands of earmarks and double-digit increases for several Cabinet agencies."
Total cost of the Senate bill passed Sunday was "$1.1 trillion, including average spending increases of 10 percent for dozens of federal agencies."
Ten percent hikes for federal agencies? What is going on?
Democrats say the money is needed to make up for the neglect of the George W. Bush years. But the Bush years were the fattest years for federal social spending since the Great Society.
Sen. Dick Durbin says the spending is necessary "to keep cops on the street ... so that families feel secure. ... Money spent to help our first responders, firefighters and policemen is a critical investment."
But aren't cops and firemen a state and local responsibility?
"It is business as usual, spending money like a drunken sailor, " said Sen. John McCain. "And the bar is still open."
But when sailors get drunk and spend crazily, they are on shore leave and spending their own money. When they get back aboard ship, they sober up and shape up, and do the vital work they enlisted to do.
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