Facts, Fiction, and Fiscal Responsibility

Today the Boston Globe published an opinion piece which argued that readers are rarely willing to alter their opinions when they are presented with contrary facts.  We offered a comment suggesting that this is very much true of the Medicare debate—not one American in a thousand knows how large the future liabilities are, and few really want to—but it does seem that large numbers of voters have recognized the dangers of our addiction to debt.

That’s really quite laudable, because Americans, Europeans, and the Japanese have been ignoring the accumulation of this debt for decades.  It’s always easy to come up with reasons why we can’t cut spending or raise taxes, this year.  Perhaps it’s the “T” word (Jennifer Horn, a local candidate, offers bumper stickers saying “Don’t Tell Congress What Comes After A Trillion”), or perhaps it’s the specter of a meltdown in Greece and the other P.I.G.S.   It doesn’t matter.  This is a moment that comes only once in a hundred years. 

Americans are ready to take some bitter medicine and make the world a better place for their children.  Let’s make sure that the resulting changes are lasting.  Instead of just kicking out the current members of Congress, let’s change the rules under which the Congress operates, using the only instrument that we have.  An amendment to the Constitution.  Anything less would waste the opportunity of a lifetime.

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