RON HART: GOP's feckless response to debt ceiling opportunity

Ron Hart, The Hart Beat

MIAMI — It is an awful time of year. The Atlanta Falcons were eliminated from the NFL playoffs and Congress goes back to “work.” Then we had to endure President Obama taking the Hypocrite's Oath during his second inauguration.

What our government in Washington is doing to us with its spending is so criminal that Harry Reid should post a lookout when he calls the Senate back into session.

The upcoming debt ceiling vote would be a great time to cut out-of-control spending. Yet the Republicans, in disarray, cannot coalesce around their principles; they appear to be caving in on requiring that raising the debt ceiling be contingent on real spending cuts.

The people running the balance sheet and finances of our great country are the most opportunistic and financially inept in the U.S. They spend their lives spending other people’s money rather than their own.  If you are financially illiterate, Washington, D.C., is the best place to be. There is safety in numbers.

Politicians are like pigs at a trough; they will eat everything there, no matter how little or how much. If we give them the credit card, they will spend our money. It is said they "spend like drunken sailors." That's unfair to drunken sailors; to paraphrase Ronald Reagan, even sailors are eventually cut off when they max out their credit cards.

When George Bush had the checkbook, then-junior Illinois Sen. Barack Obama said that raising the debt ceiling was "immoral." Now he says it is immoral not to raise it. A politician's “morality” is whatever gets him what he wants — at that moment.

All this unwillingness to discuss spending cuts comes after Obama pushed through a massive tax increase. John Boehner was angry when he realized a tanning bed tax was included; now he views it as personal.

Obama threatens that we could see our credit rating go from AA to C. This will not happen, but even if it did, it would not be too bad. Ask any waitresses in D.C. Their tips from politicians and lobbyists increased when they went from AA to C.

The reality is that not raising the debt ceiling does not “bankrupt” us. It just cuts off the bar tab of the drunks in Washington, D.C. They still have plenty of cash to pay the interest on the tab they ran up in the past; it just keeps them from ordering more rounds of drinks for themselves and their buddies.

We have about $2.7 trillion in taxes coming into the federal government now. Those “revenues” would easily cover Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, interest payments on our massive debt, veterans' benefits and our oversized military spending. We then would have to justify and rationalize all the other things government does to us, which is a debate most Americans would be keen to have.

In a recent poll, 83 percent of us said that “government spending is out of control.”

You should have seen the face Nancy Pelosi tried to make when House Republicans called for spending cuts. After getting $650 billion in tax increases at year's end, now she wants another $1 trillion.

Instead of focusing on the budget and spending, Obama said in his inaugural address that he wants to spend money on climate control and to focus on gay marriage. So I guess now we will have "Obama’s Second Term: The Musical." Or maybe the GOP will compromise on spending and global warming and spend a trillion dollars installing a fan on our debt ceiling.

Our president does not want to address fiscal matters.  He arrogantly says he is "not going to have this debt ceiling debate again." To that, the GOP should respectfully reply, "Yes, you are."

We have a crisis of an ever-dependent, ever-growing entitlement state. With Obamacare, yet another entitlement, representing 18 percent of our economy, has been added. The government “safety net” has become a safety Barcalounger in front of a flat screen TV.

Washington, D.C.’s  finances are more messed up than Mike Tyson’s checkbook. Sadly, it looks like the GOP will miss another opportunity to enforce fiscal discipline and will give in to the Democrats without firing a shot. Maybe we really are becoming like France.

Ron Hart is a syndicated op-ed humorist, award-winning author and TV/radio     commentator. Email or visit