Lesson of liberalism gone wild likely to get a lot more painful 

For the past year and a half, Americans have been relearning what it looks like when liberals are in charge. With the national debt now above the $13 trillion mark for the first time in history and well on the path to eclipse the entire U.S. economy, those lessons are likely to get a lot more painful.

The dire warnings of economists and the vivid lessons of Greece and other debt-laden European countries have done nothing to restrain Democrats in Washington, who continue to simply declare every multibillion-dollar spending proposal an “emergency” to justify their fiscal recklessness.

Take the deficit extenders bill Democrats hope to pass this week in the Senate. A bill to extend tax benefits to small businesses is being used by Democrats to add $78.7 billion in unrelated spending to the debt. These are the kinds of spending habits that get you a $13 trillion debt, not to mention the first Republican senator from Massachusetts in nearly four decades.

As I have been pointing out on the Senate floor in recent days, the real emergency is not this or that state program Democrats want to provide with a bailout. The real emergency is the debt itself.

The problem for the Obama administration and its allies in Congress is that their policy goals are in conflict with the fiscal realities we face. In the last 16 months alone, those goals have forced us to borrow more than $2 trillion. Last month alone, as the debt crisis continued to spread through Europe and with Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke warning of a Greek-style crisis reaching the U.S., the Democrat-controlled federal government spent another $136 billion more than it collected.

The time has come for hard choices. Americans see what’s happening in Europe, and they’re begging Congress to bring the debt under control, to cut it down before we face a similar fate. In response, Democrats in Washington keep piling on, as if oblivious to the consequences. Despite being reminded by leading economists every day of a ticking fiscal time bomb, there’s no end in sight.

The pace of spending under Democrats in Washington these days would be breathtaking even in boom times. But in the midst of a recession and a looming debt crisis, it’s offensive. It may have taken two centuries to accumulate a $10 trillion debt, but In the first 500 days of this administration Democrats added $2.4 trillion to the debt — and plan to add more than another trillion this year.

This is what courting disaster looks like: Right now, Democrats in Congress are about to raid an oil spill cleanup fund to pay for programs unrelated to an oil spill cleanup — in the middle of the worst oil spill in U.S. history. And at a time when the Federal Reserve chairman is publicly calling for an “exit strategy” from the swelling budget deficit, Democrats in Washington can’t be bothered to draft a budget outlining how they plan to pay for government.

Here’s the bottom line: In the face of public outrage, dire warnings from experts and the frightening example of other countries, Democrats are showing either that they just don’t get it on the issue of the debt or that they don’t care. Clearly, they don’t see a $13 trillion national debt for the emergency it is. But Americans are as worried as I’ve ever seen about the course we’re on as a nation. And they have a simple message for Congress: Stop spending money we don’t have.

U. S. Sen. Mitch McConnell is the Senate Republican leader.

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Staff Report

Staff Report

A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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