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Irresponsible spending paving way to crisis

If federal officials think they can simply continue to run up the national indebtedness with impunity, they should reflect on the fiscal crisis caused by four European countries that face a similar problem.

A couple of weeks ago, world financial markets fell substantially and the U.S. Dow Jones Industrial Average closed below 10,000 for the first time in three months as investors worried about Greece’s creditworthiness. … And speculation turned to Italy, Spain and Portugal as the next in line to face budget crises because their deficits far exceed what is allowed under the European Union treaty.

… Greece owes its creditors 300 billion euros — about $408 billion, or 125 percent of its gross domestic product.

… Consider the situation of the U.S.: The total debt is $12.4 trillion, $7.8 trillion of which is considered the public debt. That accounts for 60.8 percent of GDP.

… If countries such as China, a major buyer of U.S. debt, lose faith in Washington’s ability to pay that money back, the U.S. will have to raise interest rates to entice lenders or find itself unable to borrow. Higher interest rates could depress the U.S. economy. …

Any budget fixes implemented now will hurt, but that’s nothing compared to the pain that awaits if the U.S. continues to blunder along the path to fiscal crisis.

The Columbus Dispatch,

Feb. 18