Bernanke thinks the slowdown is transitory, saying this week in a speech at the International Monetary Conference in Atlanta, "In this context, monetary policy cannot be a panacea." In effect, writes Washington Post economics analyst Neil Irwin, Bernanke "argued that the things holding back the U.S. economy will not be fixed by the central bank printing even more money." -- Meantime, the government's debt-ridden fiscal mess worsens each month. It was reported this week that the ballooning national debt is approaching the size of the nation's entire gross domestic product, the measurement of our entire $15 trillion economy. With the new Aug. 2 deadline fast approaching for raising the debt ceiling by about $2 trillion to keep the government solvent, Moody's Investors Service warned that it may downgrade America's AAA credit score. That could have a disastrous inflationary effect across the country, and drive up the government's cost of borrowing money. -- Numerous other weaknesses plague our economy. Housing is in a depression. Consumers are taking on more debt. Retail sales are tepid. The White House has all but killed the hope of opening up new job-creating export trade markets anytime soon, giving union bosses veto power over their approval.