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Now that we’ve had exactly one month to digest the debt ceiling debacle, followed by the S&P’s downgrade of the US government, let’s take a deep breath and consider the reality of the situation.

The United States government remains very much in the midst of fiscal disaster. The debate over raising the debt ceiling for the 75th time since 1962 was a complete distraction from the real problem: Out of control government spending.

The meager deficit reductions included as part of the debt ceiling deal represent a decrease from the amount of increasing government spending. This was not an overall decrease in spending.

At the end of 2012, the government’s debt will have reached a total of over $16.5 trillion from its current level of $14.6 trillion. Ten years from now the U.S. government’s debt will reach $22 trillion dollars, given the most conservative projections. That is 51% higher than it is today. Today, our government officially spends about 3.4 trillion per year. In ten years, annual spending levels are projected to be 5.2 trillion per year by the CBO.

Given those projections, the government has knowingly promised to put us in debt to the tune of at least $22 trillion dollars. If that is the case, why didn’t Congress just raise the debt ceiling to $22 trillion since that is what they are promising to do anyway?

On August 2nd, our elected officials authorized the U.S. Treasury to borrow and spend an additional $2.4 trillion dollars over the next 15 months - conveniently, long enough to make it though the next election cycle. Clearly, the entire process of raising the debt ceiling for the 75th time since 1962 has been one of smoke and mirrors by both political parties.

But raising or not raising the debt ceiling isn’t the issue. The government is going to find a way to spend the money it wants to spend. Without question, the debt ceiling has proven to be an ineffective tool to constrain out of control government spending. At best, it is an inconvenient formality and an opportunity for cheap political posturing.

The evil here is not in the abuse of continuing to raise the debt ceiling; but rather in the government’s use of debt borrowing to fund spending on programs with which the government has no legitimate authority to be involved in the first place.

The appetite of government cannot be quenched and will continue to consume the wealth and income of those working in the productive private sector as long as we let it. We are caught in the “iron triangle” of politicians, bureaucrats, and special interest groups.

The only real solution to our government’s debt dilemma is to challenge the justifications for the size and scope of Washington’s reach over the lives the American people. The government has shown it has no plans to get its fiscal house in order.

Americans should rediscover the proper role of government and to stop asking the government to do things for us that we are not willing to do ourselves.

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