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It should come as no surprise that a congressional so-called "super committee" has failed so far to agree on ways to reduce the United States' disastrous budget deficits.

The Democrat and Republican members of the panel are hung up on the same issues that prompted Congress to put the matter before the committee in the first place.

Democrats want big tax increases -- in the middle of an economic crisis! -- as well as some cuts in spending. Republicans want to focus on cuts in spending and to avoid higher taxes.

The committee's Democrat and GOP members have proposed their competing plans, though no one seems to think either one has much chance of even getting out of the committee -- much less of being passed by the full Congress.

The absurdity of the debate itself is illustrated by the size of our national debt: $14.9 trillion.

A debt that is nearly equal to our gross domestic product -- everything that our country produces in a given year -- is a clear indication that we are borrowing and spending far too much.

The equally clear solution is to borrow and spend less, not to raise taxes.

Higher taxes in a time of extreme economic fragility is a recipe for more stagnation and lack of job creation. That will narrow our economic base even further, ultimately reducing government revenue and making it harder to begin working toward balanced budgets.

So what's next? If the "super committee" doesn't submit, before Thanksgiving, a plan that Congress will approve, roughly $1 trillion in automatic spending cuts will take place. Those cuts will disproportionately hit national defense.

Our country is in a real financial mess, but too few of our elected leaders in Washington seem willing to confront it responsibly.

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