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Debt ceiling: Still going up and up and up

Much like the weather, everybody these days likes to talk about the nation’s crippled finances — but nobody wants to do anything about it.

As we enter 2012, the country’s looming fiscal train wreck remains front and center. Yet despite all the attention it has received, despite the tea parties, supercommittees and pleas for fiscal restraint, beltway politicians continue down the same road unperturbed.

Remember last summer’s debt limit debate? Perhaps you didn’t notice on Friday that the president temporarily delayed seeking another increase, this time by $1.2 trillion.

It’s all part of the August deal that supposedly headed off the nation’s default. This looming increase in the debt ceiling requires the consent of only one legislative chamber and the Senate will no doubt go along. So some time in the next few weeks Congress will authorize additional borrowing authority that will bring the debt limit to $16.4 trillion.

Meantime, The Washington Post reports that despite the popular Democratic myth that the federal budget is being squeezed left and right by heartless Republicans, the debt is $1 trillion higher than when tea party GOP House members came to town a year ago. It will grow by an additional $1 trillion by the end of 2012, according to projections.

“We’ve saved the American taxpayer about 17 hours of spending. That’s it,” Rep. Reid Ribble, a freshman GOP House member from Wisconsin, told the Post. “When you just really stop and think about it, we’ve made very little progress.”

To hear the president and his allies tell it, if Washington could just squeeze a little more out of those who earn $250,000 a year, we’d solve the problem. But loosening the spigot that showers the beltway with the earnings of hard-working Americans isn’t the answer and will exacerbate the problem. Instead, fostering economic growth, developing long-term cost containment measures for entitlements and imposing spending restraint on a body that knows no limits must form the foundation of any path toward fiscal sanity.

Our federal government borrows 36 cents of every dollar it spends — and the number continues to increase. During fiscal year 2011, the U.S. government spent $3.6 trillion, up a whopping 17.5 percent from the $2.97 trillion spent just three years earlier.

The big spenders continue their rout. Do only a handful of voters even care?

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