Rep. Jeb Hensarling, the four-term Texas Republican, hopes it is true that, as has been said, Americans invariably do the right thing -- after exhausting all the alternatives. Regarding the fiscal imbalance that is driving the national debt toward 90 percent of gross domestic product, Americans are running out of alternatives.
Remember, deficits are supposed to add $8.5 trillion to the nation's debt in this decade. This is the plan -- based on an optimistic assumption of 10 years of 3.4 percent economic growth. This year's second-quarter growth rate was half that -- 1.7 percent.
President Obama established the 18-member National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, on which Hensarling serves, with, he says, "high hopes and low expectations." Thus far, Hensarling doubts that the commission is a "stalking horse for a VAT" -- a value-added tax, essentially a national sales tax. He is, however, agnostic about whether the president's purpose in creating the commission was to enable Democrats to tiptoe past next month's elections without talking about deficits.