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Rising debt: paying tomorrow for the spending sins of today

27,031.49. That's what you owe as your part of the national debt. Your spouse owes anothazer $27,031.49, as do your children, your in-laws, your friends and neighbors — in fact, every man, woman, and child citizen of the U.S.

And by the time you read this, your share will be even more.

This country's debt has now topped $8 trillion. It is increasing by more than $1.5 billion per day.

Whoa! And this is from the party and administration that claim to represent more responsible, smaller, cheaper government? On their watch, the national debt has increased by $2.2 trillion, almost half of that racked up in less than two years since December 2003. Discretionary spending rose a mind-boggling 48 percent during President Bush's first term, Congress has been forced to raise the national debt limit three times while handing out tax breaks aimed mostly at the wealthy, and overall spending continues virtually unabated.

The Congressional Budget Office is projecting an annual deficit this year of $368 billion and a 10-year deficit of $1.35 trillion. And those figures, in sleight-of-hand accounting that only the government could love, don't include the hundreds of billions of dollars for the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Congress has made a half-hearted effort at deficit-reduction, the Senate recently passing a $35 billion “spending restraint, revenue enhancement” package, although that's less than half the $80 billion (and rising) emergency appropriations for hurricane relief. The House is trying to come up with $50 billion in spending cuts.

Things are so bad, even members of the president's own party are rebelling. “Republican politicians are the same as Democrat politicians — they like to spend money,” said Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla. The difference, he said: “Democrats want to raise taxes to pay for it; Republicans just allow the next generation to pay for it.”

Coburn, who had the temerity to suggest that the Senate might eliminate the $453 million down payment on two Alaskan “bridges to nowhere,” expected to eventually cost more than $1 billion, and instead use the money to rebuild hurricane-ravaged Interstate 10 across the Gulf coast, was treated to a royal hissy fit by Alaska's senior senator, who threatened to resign if his pork projects were cancelled (we taxpayers should be so lucky).

So how do our ruling spendthrifts plan to deal with this fiscal quagmire?

Well, aside from cuts in agriculture programs, they want to eliminate the few tax breaks left to the everyday working man: deductions for mortgage interest, state income taxes, etc., in addition to slashing or eliminating dozens of programs.

Congress should “push the envelope” in reducing spending, the president has said, and “show the American people we're capable of being wise about the money, and at the same time, meeting our priorities.”

All this accompanied by further tax breaks for the wealthy and unprecedented spending on “pork” projects.

Mr. Bush has said on more than one occasion that government should handle its fiscal matters the same way American families do.

Instead, we have a government that's spending like there's no tomorrow, and saddling us, our children and grandchildren with unconscionable debt.

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