It can't be a good sign when our country more or less gets used to the federal government adding more than $1 trillion to the national debt, year in, year out.
But that's what seems to be happening.
It generated all too little public debate when it was projected by the Congressional Budget Office that, once again, the federal government will run a more than $1 trillion deficit in the current fiscal year, which ends in September.
This will be the fourth straight year of federal deficits that have exceeded the $1 trillion mark.
The total national debt -- which includes cumulative deficits from past years -- now is well above $15 trillion and is on the way to $16 trillion and beyond.
The additional debt from Washington's breakneck spending makes it even more unlikely that the United States will regain its top-notch credit rating from rating agency Standard & Poor's. For the first time in history, Standard & Poor's has lowered our rating because of Washington's unwillingness to take serious measures to reduce the debt.
Meanwhile, taxpayers continue to pay hundreds of billions of dollars each year in interest on the debt -- money that otherwise might be put to productive, job-creating use in the private sector.
And in the midst of all that, President Barack Obama proposes increasing taxes on higher-income Americans who already pay a disproportionately large share of federal taxes. That might seem like an easy source of "free" government revenue, but in fact it would cause further harm to our weak economy by reducing private-sector investment and economic activity. Besides, Washington cannot be trusted to apply new revenue to debt reduction. More likely it would use additional funds for more wasteful spending.
The answer to excessive spending is less spending. And the longer we put off that solution, the more painful it will become.