Lost in the holiday hoopla and the cheering and jeering over the Senate's passage of a health-care bill was a vote to -- once again -- raise the government's debt limit.
The Republicans, claiming to stand by their fiscal conservatism, voted against the proposal to increase the ceiling to $12.4 trillion. Unfortunately, the GOP has not walked the talk over the last decade.
When George W. Bush took over as president in January 2001, the national debt was $5.7 trillion. He handed over a debt of $10.7 trillion to President Obama at the beginning of this year.
During this time period the increases in the debt limit could not have been passed without a significant number of Republican votes.
The costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the Bush administration tax cuts nearly doubled the debt.
Now, after the Obama administration's bailouts of businesses "too big to fail," the government continues to put itself in that same category but simply moving the line at which it would max out its credit.
In less than a year, Democrats have added nearly $2 trillion to our debt.
Enough is enough.
If there is one good thing to come out of the recession it is the number of businesses and individuals who have cut up their credit cards and are embarking on a new way of life that requires them to live within their means.
That's a difficult thing for Americans do to. We want everything and we want it now. And we'll worry about the costs later. Later finally got here for most of us.
The government, too, needs to tighten its belt. It can do it the same way businesses and individuals are trying to do it: Evaluate every expense as a "need" or a "want."
Governments were instituted for a limited purpose: defense (safety) and welfare of citizens. This definition has been stretched so far out of shape that almost anything can fit into the bloated budget, especially if it helps politicians get re-elected.
If the budgets -- federal, state, county and city -- were put under the microscope and forced to meet a true litmus test of "need" we would find far more "wants" than we can currently afford.
There is nothing inherently wrong with "wants." Many of them enhance our ways of life. But we could make the sacrifice and live without them.
And until we can afford to pay for our "wants" -- either as individuals, businesses or governments -- we must eschew the easy way out and put ourselves, our businesses and our governments on a firm financial footing.
Right now we are up to our armpits in quicksand.