Our Opinion: ‘Fix the Debt’ with actions, not platitudes

News Tribune editorial

Missouri’s entry into a national “Fix the Debt” campaign was infused with irony. First, no solutions were advanced. The news conference Tuesday to announce the campaign offered little more than platitudes and hand-wringing.

The event featured business leaders and former and current political leaders concerned about the ever-increasing national debt. The debt — now exceeding $16 trillion and counting — has been welldocumented and well-publicized. Initiatives, innovations and ideas are needed to diminish the debt. Instead, campaign spokesmen reiterated the obvious and advanced generalities.

They called for “common-sense solutions,” but said “we’re not going to get into the specifics.”

“What we’re asking Missourians and members of Congress to do, is to sit at the table, discuss the details and hash them out there ... in a serious, adult conversation.”

Such a request is hardly new.

Pushing four current and former politicians to the forefront of the press conference was simply surrealistic — particularly in view of State Treasurer Clint Zweifel’s observation. “The reality is, the math here is quite simple — it’s the politics that are hard,” he said. “Fifth-graders throughout Missouri can do the math that’s required to fix these problems.”

We agreed, wholeheartedly.

Politicians created the debt, generously spending for new services and seeking pork-barrel projects to curry favor with constituents.

Enhancing the irony was the presence of former U.S. Sen. Christopher “Kit” Bond, who was adept at securing earmarks, including the federal courthouse in Jefferson City named in his honor.

We offer this as an observation, not a criticism. Bond was a popular politician, largely because of prowess in bringing federal largesse to Missouri.

Multiply the efforts of any Missouri congressional representative by the number of peers, past and present, from the 50 states, and the magnitude — and persistence — of the problem begins to emerge.

Ultimately, politicians represent and reflect what their constituents want; that’s how they win re-election.

If we are serious about reducing the national debt, we the people must ask the federal government for less, not more.

We must stop competing with the other 49 states for what we believe is our fair share of the federal pie. Instead, the states all must cooperate and be content with a smaller pie. And to accomplish that, the first, and most difficult, step will be to reduce our own appetite.

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