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Democrats have figured this out. It’s a lot easier to expand government if nobody seems to have to pay the price. To his credit, Mr. Obama has insisted that his major domestic initiative — health reform — be offset by spending cuts and tax increases, but he did not impose the same standard on his new tax cuts. And Democratic activists deride those who lobby for fiscal sanity as “budget scolds” (or worse) because they fear that honest arithmetic will undermine their agenda.

There might even be a third Santa this time around — China. It contributes to the illusion that deficits cost nothing by lending our government as much as it needs at interest rates near zero. But, like the tax-cut and spending Santas, the lending Santa is no benevolent elf. Chinese and other foreign lending fuels our purchases of imports, propping up their economies. They don’t care that we are mortgaging our childrens’ future.

But we should care. Give our children a real Christmas gift and banish the evil Santas.

Happy holidays.

• Leonard Burman is the Daniel Patrick Moynihan professor of public affairs at the Maxwell School of Syracuse University and an affiliated scholar at the Tax Policy Center.