It seems impossible to turn on a television set, open up a newspaper or click through a news website without finding government leaders proclaiming doom if America doesn’t get its financial house in order.
Regardless of party or position, the consensus of the political class is that Washington, D.C., can no longer afford annual deficits of $1.3 trillion or more and a national debt approaching $14.3 trillion — a debt limit that will soon have to be raised or else the country supposedly will face financial calamity.
Certainly President Barack Obama is a leading voice in this chorus. Just last week in his budget speech at George Washington University, the chief executive predicted these dire consequences: “By 2025, the amount of taxes we currently pay will only be enough to finance our health care programs, Social Security and the interest we owe on our debt. That’s it. Every other national priority — education, transportation, even national security — will have to be paid for with borrowed money.”
He went on to say: Failure to restore fiscal sanity “will prevent us from making the investments we need to win the future. We won’t be able to afford good schools, new research or the repair of roads and bridges — all the things that will create new jobs and businesses here in America.”
On Capitol Hill, House Speaker John Boehner was equally fervent in proclaiming impending disaster if the country’s problems aren’t addressed: “The American people understand that we can’t continue spending money we don’t have. Our national debt has now surpassed $14.2 trillion. It’s on a track to eclipse the size of our entire economy this year. This massive debt is hurting private sector job creation — eroding confidence, spreading uncertainty among employers big and small, discouraging private investment in our economy that is sorely needed in order for us to create jobs.”
Boehner also saw something larger at stake: “This debt is also a moral threat to our country. In my opinion, it is immoral to rob our children and grandchildren’s futures and leave them beholden to countries around the world that buy our debt. We have a moral obligation to speak the truth and to do something about it.”
So where is Boehner this week? Same place the rest of Congress is — on a two-week Easter recess. Recesses are for talking to constituents back home and taking junkets overseas. For example, Boehner is in Pakistan. With him are five House colleagues, including Reps. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas; Mike Conaway, R-Texas; Tom Rooney, R-Fla.; Joe Heck, R-Nev.; and Dan Boren, D-Okla.
Obama also is traveling this week, giving speeches on the budget.
Whether in Pakistan or Peoria, our leaders are content to talk about America’s economic problems. But now is the time to act, at work in Washington, D.C. Business-as-usual has no place when the country’s future is in peril.
Cancel all recesses and junkets, park Air Force One, and get back to the capitol and do your jobs.