Jay Ambrose: Can America become a Greek tragedy?

Jay Ambrose

Greece is a little, bitty country that did a terribly big, bad thing. It ran up a debt so irresponsibly impossible that it's not just Greece that's in danger, but financial markets around the globe and a huge hunk of Europe that uses the euro as its currency.

Imagine, then, what it's going to be like when a great, huge country, the United States of America, does pretty much the same bad thing. We'll be upside-down, the rest of the world will be upside-down, and here is what you had better not do -- listen to Christina Romer, chairwoman of President Obama's Council of Economic Advisers, who says not to worry because her boss has a plan.

He has a plan, all right. He has just given us a break-all-records budget of $3.83 trillion and the probability of $8.5 trillion in deficits over the next 10 years, increasing the debt to something unmanageable, awful, destructive -- and that figure could be, probably is, an understatement.

When he isn't blaming George W. Bush, who did hundreds of billions less to increase the budget in eight years than Obama has accomplished in one, he is telling us about a freeze of a tiny portion of the budget that is already bloated, or a debt commission no one expects to accomplish anything or the new Pay-Go law requiring Congress to raise taxes or cut other spending to pay for any additional expenditures.

Well, almost any additional expenditures. Pay-Go does not apply to Social Security or Medicare, and as we are reminded by a recent Associated Press story, those two programs alone will consume 80 percent of all revenues by 2020 if nothing is done to restructure them.

And by the way, raising taxes to pay for runaway spending is no more a solution than borrowing to pay for deficits -- either tactic removes money needed for business expansion and jobs creation.

Sorry, but this presidential saint is turning out to be a presidential trickster, especially when you consider he is still pushing for a health plan that would cost $1 trillion over the next decade and something like $2.5 trillion each decade after that.

It would give us one more entitlement on top of all the entitlements that are killing us and add to this debt. Did Obama spend years and years in Greece, polishing his welfare-state, semi-socialist, fool-the-people, ignore-reality means of reducing America to a shadow of its once free, vibrant, energetic self?

No. My suspicion is he gleaned his nonsensical political ideas from elite academia, a gathering place of considerable knowledge and deep insights mixed with absurdist leftism that no amount of historical evidence can apparently ever destroy.

We must tread carefully here, for nowhere near everyone in those circles is prone to zaniness. Consider the paraphrased message of Kenneth Rogoff I ran across. He is a Harvard economist who studies deficits around the world and says our deficits could give us unbearably high interest rates, a devalued dollar and renewed crisis.

Greece should be a lesson for us. Will it be? I have my doubts. This administration talks a good game but gives us fiscal policies that, on the one hand, are powerful and wrongheaded, increasing spending, and on the other, are wispy and sound in intent, aimed at holding spending down but doing nothing effective to get us there.

Put these policies together, and we are in deep trouble unless the tea party independents, the Republicans, the moderate Democrats and the best of the intellectuals can jointly persuade the nation to turn from madness and do what's needed.

Examiner Columnist Jay Ambrose is a former Washington opinion writer and editor of two dailies. He can be reached at

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