Our nation must stop ‘credit-card living’ mentality

Published 9:38 am Thursday, July 21, 2011

When the average American used to run into a credit card limit, there were two choices: The person could choose to cut up the credit card and pay off the debt, or the credit card company could simply raise the card’s limit, giving the consumer more borrowing power. …

But the borrowing power of average Americans wasn’t unlimited and the Great Recession proved that borrowing, be it for houses, cars or profligate credit-card living, isn’t an endless party.

That lesson was driven home to the average American, but not, apparently, to large parts of its government.

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Aug. 2 is the date Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner says he won’t be able to continue moving money around and still cover all the nation’s spending and its debt obligations.

Alarmist political rhetoric has been sounded on both sides for weeks, growing in heat and intensity while burying reality, which lies somewhere between the liberal Democrat “don’t cut any programs and raise taxes” argument and the conservative Republican “cut almost anything and raise no revenue” argument. …

It’s time to simply face facts. Government has become too big, too bloated and too much financed on a house of cards that no longer is sustainable. Pay the debts and figure out what is important on spending what’s left.

Do it now while there is still something left after debt payments are made, or perhaps next time we talk about debt ceilings, default could be a real possibility, not rhetoric.

(Steubenville) Herald Star

No Child Left Behind law isn’t living up to its name

When Congress enacted the No Child Left Behind law in 2001, it aimed to identify poor-performing schools and force them to improve or face consequences, including letting students transfer to better schools. But now the question might well be, ‘Who’s going to be left?’

A stunning 82 percent of the nation’s public schools this year could fail to meet educational goals set by the law, according to estimates that Education Secretary Arne Duncan presented to Congress. He calls it a “slow-moving train wreck” and is formulating his own backup plan.

This should be a wake-up call for Congress, which has yet to tackle a request by President Barack Obama to overhaul the law by fall.

To be fair, Congress has been operating under projections that showed 37 percent of schools were set to miss proficiency requirements. …

One fix to the law is obvious: No Child Left Behind dictates that every child, 100 percent, be proficient in math and reading by 2014. That’s unrealistic. But schools that fall short face a series of steps to help them improve, including tutoring for students or replacing the staff.

With the majority of the nation’s schools about to be labeled as broken, Congress should respond with a revision that preserves the law’s goals but does so within the realm of the possible.

The Columbus Dispatch