A trillion dollars here, a trillion dollars there, soon it all adds up to real money. The game of chicken being played out in Washington over the debt ceiling and a massive infrastructure bill will have to come to an end somehow. Some say if the debt ceiling is not raised the country is in for major economic pain—a recession, lost jobs and downgrading of the nation's credit rating.

We elect leaders and representatives to maintain the United States. The steps to achieve our national goals is our politics. Spend more? Spend less? Allocate more resources for social needs? Who's vision should be enacted? Progressives want to spend trillions of dollars to make the country more equitable. 

The national debt now stands at more than $28 trillion dollars. In 2000 it was $5.6 trillion dollars—that seems like such a quaint amount now. Did America have a choice? The attacks of Sept. 11 and subsequent homeland security expenses coupled with the Great Recession of 2008 and the COVID pandemic caused the federal budget to balloon, adding trillions of dollars a year to the debt. 

President Biden is working hard to get his $3.5 trillion spending plan approved. He is not only facing opposition from Republicans. With razor thing margins in both the U.S. House and the Senate, the President cannot afford to lose one single vote. 

The president has met with two Democratic senators who will not vote for the $3.5 trillion plan. One can only imagine conversations between those senators and the President. What concessions are demanded or offered to secure those necessary votes? 

We've been here before in negotiations over the raising of the debt ceiling. Every time, those who oppose it get something in return for their support. It is always a game of political chicken. This go-round, some smell blood in the water, and feel they can be victorious, get what they want and position themselves to win big in the mid-term elections next year.

A national debt of $5 trillion is manageable and with fiscal responsibility payments on the debt can be slowly paid down. A $30 trillion debt is different and we are at a point where we could all suffer economic pain. 

Spending $3.5 trillion the government doesn't have will not endear the President or Congress to the people. Only maintaining the country and safeguarding our economy will do that. Can't we get by with $1.5 trillion? A trillion here, a trillion there adds up to real money. Stop playing political chicken and don't mortgage the future of our grandchildren and their children for a short-term gain.

(Lyndon Zaitz is publisher of the Keizertimes.)