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Are there any grown-ups in Washington?

One of the saddest moments in a child’s life is when he learns there is no Santa Claus.

That jolly old elf who has a large belly and an even larger bag of toys has brought smiles to children for hundreds of years. It’s his ability to grant every wish, large or small, that causes us to hang our stockings with care and makes us giddy with anticipation every Christmas Eve.

Of course, when one is quite small, wishes are of a similar scale, and the cost quite nominal. Somewhere between the doll house and the Ford convertible, we got a needed dose of reality. Someone has to pay for all those goodies. Nothing in life is free.

Unfortunately, some people never grow up. For these folks, the federal government replaced the man in the red velvet suit.

What’s on your wish list? Would you like more teachers and better schools? What about a new gym and, while you are at it, why not a swimming pool? Yes, put that on the list, too.

How about more firefighters? Yes, that would be nice.

What about more police? Double, no, triple the number.

A park down the street? No, put one next to every yard. That would be even better.

Some Americans just can’t face the cold, hard truth. The sleigh is empty. The cupboard is bare. Our once proud, resourceful nation is broke, and 40 cents of every dollar we spend is borrowed, much of it from unfriendly nations.

The Congressional Budget Office’s long-term outlook predicts that the federal debt held by the public, the kind we have to repay, will surge to 70 percent of the economy by year’s end and it’s rising at an alarming rate. If our present trend continues, our national debt will hit 90 percent of GDP by 2022, 109 percent by 2026 and 200 percent of GDP by 2037.

Our parents paid the bill for those Christmas toys, but we are passing along the bill for our excess to our innocent children and grandchildren. What kind of life can they possibly lead?

On Friday, President Obama committed what some charitably refer to as a political gaff. He said, “The private sector is doing fine.”

While Obama spent the next few days trying to walk that back, his supporters were arguing that it was taken out of context – but was it?

Obama went on to say, “Where we’re seeing weaknesses in our economy has to do with state and local government. …”

Yes, while the private-sector is stumbling along at a sluggish rate – much too sluggish to soak up the 23 million Americans who are out of work or only able to find part-time employment – many state and local governments are shedding jobs because they have grown-up legislators who have passed laws mandating balanced budgets. The federal government has no such law. In fact, since Obama took office, he has added 143,000 new federal workers.

Obama argued that governors or mayors “don’t have the same kind of flexibility as the federal government in dealing with fewer revenues coming in. And so, you know, if Republicans want to be helpful, if they really want to move forward and put people back to work, what they should be thinking about is how do we help state and local governments.” In other words, we need to give the states the money so they can keep right on overspending.

Jonathan Cohn, one of Obama’s Peter Pan (he will never grow up) supporters, wrote a column for the New Republic called the “Politics of Stupid in Real Time.” Cohn argues that “increasing it (the public-sector workforce) would be among the easiest things for the (Santa Claus) federal government to do: It can simply write checks to state and local governments. …”

Obama and children like Cohn believe that the real problem lies with the mean old corporations and businesses that are making record profits and sitting on cash that could be used to hire more workers.

The question is, why are companies getting lean and mean and sitting on their cash instead of investing it? It’s because, despite the fact that we have the highest corporate tax rate in the world, Obama wants to raise it, along with the tax rates of all those small businesses that file as individuals.

Companies operate like individuals. In times of crises and uncertainty they hunker down and store up provisions. It’s common sense.

Where are the grown-ups?

Obviously, we have only children in the White House who refuse to give up Santa Claus.