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Doubling Down on Debt Hysteria

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

“You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.”

For the past two years, that has been the motto of the Obama administration. Rahm Emanuel’s candid statement as chief of staff drove the White House agenda. Using the fledging economy as their excuse, they broke through the traditional limitations of America’s government – take any and everything we can get from Congress and the American people.

Presidential hysterics and a rubber stamp Congress gave us an expensive (but non-stimulative) stimulus, a government takeover of health care and an ineffective financial overhaul. Every presidential plan drove us deeper into debt and expanded the strength and power of the federal government.

President Obama and his team used the “crisis” effectively, twisting America’s government into a form unrecognizable to our Founding Fathers. They warned of “double-dip” recessions, told the nation we had reached “the breaking point” and constantly reminded Americans we must “act now.”

The real crisis in our country is the threat to the entrepreneurial spirit that makes America great, posed by ever expansive and stifling government. As we approach our nation’s debt limit – an astounding $14.3 trillion – Washington should consider it a wake-up call as to what is at stake. Rather, the administration is imploring Congress to simply raise the debt limit and allow more and more unchecked spending.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told Congress that they must raise the debt limit by the end of March. Mr. Geithner said failure to immediately raise the debt limit would precipitate a default by the United States, which would “have catastrophic economic consequences for the United States.”

According to The Heritage Foundation, there is “no risk of default” on the debt of the United States. Why, then, is the Obama Administration using such loaded language? The answer is simple: They want a blank check to carry out their liberal, big-government agenda.

Once we reject the politics of fear and cynicism and examine the facts, it becomes clear that Congress has time for full consideration and deliberation of our government’s spending. There is no reason to rush a decision on the debt limit, and Congress must use that time wisely. Less than a year ago, Congress raised the debt limit by a mind boggling $1.9 trillion and we’ve already blown through that increase.

President Obama and Mr. Geithner want us to do that, again.

Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. Rather than following the administration’s demands and doing the same thing this February that we did last year (and twice the year before that… and twice the year before that), the House of Representatives must force President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to make the difficult choices necessary to control our nation’s spending.

Conservatives understand lifting the debt limit, with no strings attached, will enable more spending, bigger government and less individual freedom. Fortunately, some influential politicians are stepping up to the plate.

One is former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty. “This debate about how we’re going to restructure spending is inevitable,” Pawlenty said. “My view is, let’s have it now.”

Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey is another. “The vote on whether to raise the debt ceiling—and, if so, by how much—is our best opportunity to insist that any increase in our nation's debt be coupled with concrete steps toward fiscal sanity,” he recently wrote.

November’s election was a referendum on Washington. Americans voted against the Washington Establishment and big-government special interests. They voted to rein in government and control spending so that our children and grandchildren are not buried in a mountain of debt. The American people spoke loudly and it’s no surprise that a man elected in that wave – Senator Toomey – has reported for duty, ready to make tough decisions.

Americans – and their representatives in Congress – must reject the Obama administration’s embrace of fear and cynicism. Any attempt to manufacture a crisis mentality and pave the way for a quick and uncontested increase in the debt limit must be met with stiff opposition and disdain for their business as usual approach.

Instead, Congress must insist on immediate and substantive spending reductions and reforms. This is responsibility. This is accountability. This is what the American people deserve. Let’s make sure the Washington Establishment does not stymie the advance of conservatism.

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