• Polito: Cut up Congress' credit card


    There's no law requiring you to balance your budget.  You just do it… or else. If you can't make your financial obligations, there are consequences: utilities turned off, repossession, credit cards canceled, foreclosure and bankruptcy. To put it in perspective, most honest people will pay their bills but it's really the fear of being homeless that keeps us current with our creditors. Too bad our government doesn't operate under the same motivations.

    Tonight, President Barack Obama will deliver his State of the Union address. Snippets of his remarks will be released throughout the day. The entire text is always provided just before the speech. I'm betting that the President will not call for a constitutional amendment to require the federal government to do what you do every day. That is, make ends meet.

    Once again, the idea of forcing the federal government to submit and adhere to a balanced budget is being floated in a proposal to amend our constitution. The framers of the great document did not include that provision. They didn't include a lot of things. I would argue they didn't because they expected their successors to do it without being told. Opponents point to Thomas Jefferson, who lived under staggering debt most of his life, as a reason for the omission. They fail to include that Thomas Jefferson hated debt. He wrote that debt, whether assigned to a country or a person, limited their freedoms. As president, he reduced the national debt. Ironically, he was not so successful in his personal finances.

    Don't you think our government would be more efficient with our tax dollars if Congress and the President had to behave like regular people? Wouldn't Congress use more sound judgment when spending our tax dollars or borrowing using the taxpayer's good credit? Our national debt is approaching $16.5 billion. According to data released by the Congressional Budget Office, the federal government borrowed 46 cents of every dollar it spent in the last quarter of 2012. They did this while still borrowing more. Picture yourself spending nearly half your income on mortgage, car and credit card payments, while asking the bank for another loan. Good luck with that.

    The President is required by law to submit his annual budget proposal to Congress by the first Monday in February. This year he told them it would be late - making this his 4th late budget proposal. Why should he rush? The Senate hasn't passed a budget since Obama took office.

    With all that in mind, it's time for us to cut up the government's credit card and put them on a budget.

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