Remember the federal "economic stimulus" bill that was supposed to
curtail job losses and prevent our economy from failing?

Well, despite
the rosy assurances from President Obama and Congress, unemployment
remains high and the economy is teetering on the verge of a double-dip
recession. The only thing that appears to be "stimulated" is the
national debt, which is now a jaw-dropping – and record high – $13.2

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office recently laid out a
sobering potential future for America as part of its long-term budget
outlook, in which the national debt reaches 90 percent of Gross
Domestic Product by 2020. Aggravated by increasingly higher interest on
increasingly higher debt, that figure rises to 180 percent by 2035,
leading to a fiscal crisis that destabilizes the national economy.

It should come as little surprise that in California, where the state
regularly rewrites the book on fiscal irresponsibility, massive debt
poses a serious threat to our financial future. In fact, every
Californian owes $2,362 in state debt. Not just adults, not just
taxpayers, but every man, woman and child. That’s almost $10,000 for a
family of four. So much for cutting up the credit cards. By comparison,
the state debt burden for a Nebraskan is only $15.

Because California’s perpetual budget crisis has left Wall Street
skeptical of our creditworthiness, our state’s bond rating has been
repeatedly downgraded. As a result, we’re paying more for our debt than
are other governments. Debt service is consuming an ever-increasing
portion of our already cash-strapped budget: $6 billion last year, and
the state treasurer anticipates that number will double to $12 billion
by 2016.

In advocating for pension reform, I’ve pointed out that as a greater
share of the state’s limited resources must be spent on public employee
retirement checks, a lesser share is available to spend on education,
transportation, public safety and other priorities. Ballooning interest
payments squeeze state spending in the same way. The way these costs
are rising it’s not difficult to imagine a future where the bulk of
your taxes is spent paying off old government projects and financing
the retirements of the people who used to work on them.

The indisputable truth is that the government can’t spend its way to
prosperity any more than you or I can. It defies logic, really, when
you consider the fact that every dollar the government spends,
including the money politicians boast about injecting into the economy,
is a dollar that was first taken out of the economy in the form of

Last year, personal income in California declined by $40 billion.
Unemployment has reached heights not seen since the 1940s. Many
Californians have lost their homes and many more are struggling to stay
in theirs. With less money to spend, most people are cutting back
wherever they can. Over and over you hear talk of frugality being "the
new normal."

But not from the government. While revenues have decreased, the
overspending in Sacramento continues. Revenues came in $91 million
below estimates in the month of July. Meanwhile, California spent more
than a billion dollars over its budget. In the working-class suburb of
Bell we saw the height of government entitlement as city officials
overcharged residents on their taxes to pay for their own exorbitant
salaries and pensions.

Most Californians have enough of their own personal bills and debts
without being put on the hook for even more of their state government’s
poorly managed finances. Government needs to spend within its means
instead of shaking down taxpayers and voters through tax increases and
bloated bond measures.