It ought to be clear to everybody that Washington's politics as usual must end when the former senior aide to a Democratic president and a former Republican senator agree that the United States faces an onrushing fiscal calamity that cannot be ignored.
Erskine Bowles, White House chief of staff for President Clinton, warned the National Governors Association recently that the $13 trillion national debt "is like a cancer, it's a cancer that's going to destroy our country from within." Former Republican Sen. Alan Simpson of Wyoming noted that the debt is growing as never before because federal spending is out of control.
Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid consume virtually of the government's tax revenues. "The rest of the federal government, including fighting two wars, homeland security, education, art, culture, you name it, veterans, the whole rest of the discretionary budget is being financed by China and other countries," Simpson said.
These extraordinarily ominous facts haven't prevented President Obama and the Democratic Congress from blindly continuing to increase federal spending as if there were nothing to worry about. House Democrats provided an example of this irresponsibility last week during debate on reauthorizing the National Flood Insurance program in the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The Democrats defeated a Republican motion to recommit the reauthorization bill with instructions to kill a proposed new federal spending program that duplicates an existing program. The new $250 million national flood insurance public outreach duplicates FEMA's Cooperative Technical Partners Program. The motion to recommit was defeated 229-191.
During the debate on the GOP motion to recommit, Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, cited Bowles' description of the growing debt as a cancer and noted that "even if this wasn't duplicative of an already existing system, even if we truly needed it, the question is, can we afford it? Is it really worth borrowing 43 cents on the dollar mainly from the Chinese and sending the bill to our children and grandchildren? At a time when our nation is facing a debt crisis, the motion to recommit says, no, it doesn't meet that test. I mean, Mr. Speaker, we know already that the deficit has increased almost tenfold in just two years. I mean, we're looking at the largest deficits in American history. Our nation is literally drowning in debt."
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that a key step toward the cure for the federal debt-and-deficit cancer is for the government to stop spending money it has to borrow from foreign creditors to create new domestic programs to do the same thing as old programs.