Big government doesn't come cheaply. According to Congressional Budget Office (CBO) figures released Monday, the budget deficit for February hit a staggering $223 billion - meaning the Obama administration added more in debt last month than was borrowed in all of 2007. It's no secret that these mounting bills must eventually come due in the form of higher taxes or a deflated currency. Either alternative would hit consumers hard.
Since Barack Obama was sworn in as president, each American taxpayer's share of the federal government's IOU has grown to $50 per day - more than the average cell-phone user is billed in an entire month. The monthly share of the deficit is $1,500 per taxpayer - about what the average household spends on a mortgage. On an annual basis, each taxpayer owes $18,250 - more than an Old Dominion resident would pay in tuition at the University of Virginia or a nonresident would spend at the University of Maryland.
In January 2009, the national debt stood at $10.6 trillion. Fueled by the so-called stimulus, this debt grew by $3.6 trillion in just two years. The magnitude of this amount is difficult to grasp without a comparison. Under Mr. Obama, government has been borrowing $4.6 billion each and every day. That's more than it cost to construct the world's tallest building, Dubai's Burj Khalifa. In other words, the amount of future productivity being sapped from the American economy would be sufficient to construct a new 160-story skyscraper every day of the year.
This looming burden will eventually hit, but it will not fall on every American. According to the latest Tax Foundation figures, 90,718,339 paid more in taxes than they received in 2008. The price of present, past and future bureaucracy will fall on these shoulders. According to CBO's rosiest projections, we are on track to hit $18.2 trillion in debt within the next 10 years. Each taxpayer would have to cough up $200,620 to retire that debt.
The current Republican plan would trim 2011 spending by $58.6 billion and lighten the weight around the necks of future generations by one-third of 1 percent. America's looming insolvency calls for more than half-measures and convenient trimming around the edges. Government has grown too large and too intrusive. It must be rolled back by a return to spending levels no greater than those found in the 2006 budget. This is hardly an extreme suggestion; it's not like people complained about not having enough government around five years ago. Such a change would have the added benefit of returning desperately needed capital to the private sector.
The actions of Mr. Obama and his congressional allies betray a lack of faith in the promise of capitalism to raise the living standards through economic growth. We've tried two straight years of Keynesian stimulus, and this discredited theory has produced no better results than it did under Mr. Obama's ideological forerunner, Jimmy Carter. It's now up to the House Republican majority to use the upcoming debt-limit vote to inform the president that his partying at the nation's expense must come to an end.
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