Chattanooga Times Free Press: Editorial: Need to face financial facts

Posted on January 27, 2011

There was a lot of pomp and circumstance in Washington this week as members of Congress heard President Barack Obama make the annual State of the Union address.

But one very important fact is really not sufficiently on the president's "radar." Our able Tennessee Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander was one of too few national officials to call attention to it.

Alexander went right to the point when he said, "We are borrowing 42 cents out of every dollar we spend in Washington, so the president and the Congress have to work together to reduce spending and the federal debt."

Individuals and families obviously could not long borrow such a high percentage of their spending without being forced to face painful realities. Our government can get away with not facing financial facts longer than "we, the people" can. But ultimately, borrowing 42 cents of every dollar we spend will put us all in deep trouble.

We don't want higher taxes. Taxes already are too high. The need is to cut spending. For political reasons, that's hard to do. But much of our spending is really unnecessary. And a good deal of it is actually unconstitutional.

We have a national debt of more than $14 trillion! That figures out to mean that each one of us -- individually -- owes a roughly $45,000 share of that debt. And it is rising by the second.

Do you feel comfortable knowing that? Wouldn't we feel better if our government spent less, taxed us less and piled up less debt for us eventually to pay?

When and how will we even begin to face our federal financial facts?