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Raising the debt ceiling shouldn't be automatic

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner made the rounds on the Sunday talk shows, promising it was all but inevitable that Congress would cave in and raise the U.S. debt ceiling. Not so fast, Mr. Secretary.

Many Republicans, especially Tea Party freshmen, have expressed reservations about voting to extend the national debt any more. And with good reason: the commitments made already total $14.3 trillion, and the proposal is to raise the amount the U.S. can statutorily borrow to $16 trillion now and as much as $19 trillion by 2021. If those numbers are incomprehensible, they should be. As of now, each citizen's share of the national debt equals $46,144.73. That's per person.

America is putting herself in peril by borrowing 40 cents for every dollar she spends. This should be seen as a threat as great as al Qaeda to the future of this country.

Instead of voting to allow the debt ceiling to rise again with no strings attached, a broad plan needs to be put into place to reduce the deficit and debt. We need to know what spending must be reduced and what taxes need to be raised. The answer is "most" in both cases, because we'll never get our arms around the problem if we don't.

As former Republican Senator Al Simpson said to Fox News, "You can't get there by reducing spending alone. And you can't get there by doing taxing alone."

Medicare, Medicaid, national defense, Social Security, tax increases (and not just on the "rich") will be necessary if we're going to be serious people about not crashing our economy.

In the end, we will need to raise the debt limit in the short term, but it can't be yet another blank check. We need a plan now to have a future tomorrow.

This editorial represents the collective voice of the Pioneer Journal's editorial board. Today's editorial was written by Steve Schulz, editor and publisher.