- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 3, 2011

Within a matter of days, America’s national debt will bust through the $15 trillion barrier. When Barack Obama was sworn in as president, the figure was $10.6 trillion. Putting a stop to this uncontrolled growth of government is the most important political issue in 2012.

Unless federal spending is brought under control, the country’s independence will not last long enough for the other usual areas of concern to make a difference. The candidate who grasps this deserves to be handed the keys to the Oval Office.

Of course, nothing is easier than feigning concern about the red ink with promises to make tough choices. It’s so easy that Mr. Obama vowed to go “line by line” through the budget, eradicating waste. Republican leaders in Congress went along with the farce, claiming that the budget has been cut even though outlays increased $144 billion in 2011. Meek politicians were unwilling to risk a shutdown of non-essential government services that would come from a budget fight.

The candidate willing to take a stand, regardless of the political consequences, is the one who deserves the nod. The Tea Party proved the establishment wrong last year by demonstrating how limited government is a winning theme.

Voters realize that, in addition to the public debt, Social Security and Medicare have promised $46 trillion in benefits to the elderly without any means of paying them. That brings the federal red ink grand total to $61 trillion - the equivalent of a $540,000 mortgage on every American household. It doesn’t take a math whiz to realize this is unsustainable.

Within a few decades, FDR’s Ponzi schemes will consume the entire federal income. The hole is so deep that only robust economic growth can pull us out. Fundamental tax and entitlement reform, along with a repeal of unnecessary regulations, must happen.

The Occupy Wall Street movement and labor-union protests in Wisconsin show just how hard a fight society’s takers will mount to preserve their entitlements. America’s next president must have the strength to fight for conservative principles, or he could very well end up America’s last president of self-sustaining nation.