In May, Congress will begin debate on our nation’s debt limit. The debt limit is an alarm bell built into our nation’s laws, which forces members of Congress to confront out-of-control spending when our debt reaches a certain level. Five times in the last four years, we have ignored this alarm bell. This time must be different.

It would irresponsible and reckless for them to even consider raising the limit without also enacting spending cuts and reform. The nation’s credit worthiness is directly tied to our fiscal stewardship, not our desire to borrow. America would send a strong signal to global financial markets by taking prudent steps to address our out-of-control spending habits, not by blindly giving ourselves another blank check.

Today’s national debt—the public debt that government has accumulated to finance its out-of-control spending—is approximately $14.3 trillion. To put that into perspective, the government’s annual budget for 2011, which is in itself bloated, is roughly $3.7 trillion. And to put the future health of our economy in perspective, President Obama proposed in his 2012 Budget proposal that we add $9 trillion to that debt over the next ten years.

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