Rebecca Hagelin

The shrill pitch of my 2-year-old's voice was nearly deafening. There was no mistaking his mood ? the kid was mad. Although the angry 2-year-old is now 15, I remember the scene as if it was yesterday.

My husband had been digging fence-post holes in the backyard, and although they were relatively small holes to an adult ? roughly 30 inches deep ? they were about the height of my son. Nick had been dancing precariously around the edges of the hole with his own little plastic shovel when ? plop! ? he slipped in.

Given that the hole was only about 12 inches in diameter, he was stuck. All I could see was the top of his little bobbing head. My 2-year-old knew it was time to stop digging, and start trying to figure a way out of the mess he'd gotten himself into. His method for getting out? Scream bloody murder until somebody heard and acted.

Someone needs to tell Congress about the First Rule of Holes: If you're in one, stop digging.

We're in one, all right ? and not some pint-sized hole either. Federal spending is out of control to the point where America is dangerously close to disappearing into a bottomless pit.

In the last year, federal spending topped more than $20,000-per-household-per-year.

Dig, dig, dig.

"Discretionary" spending ? not what we spend on defense or homeland security or Social Security or Medicare, but what we spend on what we call "programs" ? has increased by double-digit percentages each of the past three years.

Dig, dig, dig.

Many of the same lawmakers calling for spending restraint also plan to vote to expand highway spending by 72 percent, and to increase special education spending by 151 percent, and to restart unemployment benefits despite the fact the economy is growing and workers are finding jobs again.

Dig, dig, dig.

This must change. We have to stop digging. We have to stop making things worse, and start trying to figure out a way to get out of the hole.

Throw down the shovel and stop digging: It's the first of the five suggestions my Heritage Foundation colleague Brian Riedl offers in his recently released paper, "How to Get Federal Spending Under Control."

Once the digging has stopped, Riedl offers four steps to getting out of the hole.

Rebecca Hagelin

Rebecca Hagelin is a public speaker on the family and culture and the author of the new best seller, 30 Ways in 30 Days to Save Your Family.
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