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Posted 2/03/10 (Wed)

By Neal A. Shipman
Farmer Editor

With the United States’ federal government deficit this year predicted to hit a record $1.6 trillion, one has to wonder just what it will take for the members of the U.S. Congress and the Obama administration to finally get the message that now is a time for some fiscal responsibility in Washington, D.C.
One would think that with the country’s economy still struggling to get back on its feet, the nation’s housing market still suffering, and unemployment standing at 10 percent, members of Congress would realize that continuing to grow the federal deficit is simply adding to our nation’s economic problem.
But apparently there are members of the U.S. Senate who just don’t want to have anyone get in the way of their continued funding of pet projects within their districts. They can talk about the need to control spending, but when it comes time to do something about it, they fall back to their old ways and fund projects and programs that only continue to drive up the federal deficit. How else can you explain last week’s rejection by the U.S. Senate of a bipartisan proposal to create a deficit reduction commission?
Under the proposed budget deficit commission, which was crafted by North Dakota Senator Kent Conrad (D) and New Hampshire Senator Judd Gregg (R) to be similar to the successful Military Base Closure Commission, politics would be taken out of the process of recommending cuts to federal programs. Once a budget funding cut was recommended by the commission, members of Congress could only accept or reject the recommendation.
Senator Conrad is dead right when he asked members of the Senate, “Is there any doubt that we are on a collision course with economic reality?” And that, “There is no question that doing things the same old way that has led to this crisis is unlikely to lead to a different result.”
What members of Congress and the Obama administration need to learn is that you have to live within your means financially. While it can be fun for a while, it is not possible to spend more money than you have for very long.
That’s the financial lesson that many families across this country are having to relearn in these tough economic times. And it is the same cardinal rule that is now forcing many states to dramatically cut back on budget expenditures.
It is a lesson that our federal government needs to learn and learn soon.
So to those Senators who voted not to support the creation of a debt reduction commission, each of them deserves an ''F'' on their fiscal responsibility test!