Steve Chapman: Government Debt on the Road to Ruin

Nearly every state has followed the same basic policy of making promises today and letting someone figure out how to pay for them years from now.


Bruce Rauner
Wikimedia Commons

Americans are addicted to living beyond their means, at least when it comes to the functions of government. That's why the federal debt tripled over the past decade and under President Barack Obama's budget plan would keep growing indefinitely.

Why not? If you don't have to pay for all you get, you're likely to take more than you need.

The problem is hardly confined to Washington. State and local governments can't get away with endless budget deficits because of restrictions on their authority to borrow money. But if you think that keeps them from piling up obligations on future taxpayers, you underestimate their ingenuity, writes Steve Chapman.