In this new article on the continual spending and stretching of the budget, Dr. Emily Skarbek explains the temptations for the new Congress to spend wastefully and heighten the debt ceiling. Equating Congress and the ever-expanding budget to over-eaters, Dr. Skarbek says that small intervals of “another ten pounds” are causing an extreme obesity crisis for the U.S. financially:
The question that will haunt America for the next several months is whether the new 112th Congress has the will to trim back the unsustainable excesses to which Washington has become accustomed or will fall back into old, unhealthy habits.
Every representative must wage battle between personal desires and the will to make responsible decisions. But the road to discipline is fraught with temptation.
The first test will be raising the statutory limit on the amount of money the government can borrow. Even before the new Congress was sworn in, Austan Goolsbee, chairman of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, was warning that failing to raise the debt limit—now $14.3 trillion, or more than 95 percent of last year’s Gross Domestic Product—would be “catastrophic” and pure “insanity.”
Goolsbee’s cries to loosen the belt on the already obese federal budget sounded much like the excuses overeaters use to avoid changing their habits. “Just a few more cookies. . . . I’ll work myself into those skinny jeans tomorrow.”
Goolsbee certainly is not the first to want to delay self-denial. Since World War I, when the Second Liberty Bond Act of 1917 placed a statutory limit on government borrowing, Congress has increased the debt ceiling more than 70 times. But each increase, like those additional cookies, has made it more difficult to stop and has helped hide the fact that we face ruin if the overindulgence continues.
Unfortunately, what has been a relatively benign problem until recently...