Examiner Editorial: National debt is 2010 campaign’s key issue 

National Review Online’s Jonah Goldberg recently opined that the rules seem to be changing in American politics. It no longer seems to be true, for example, that once Americans get an entitlement, they will never give it up. Similarly, according to Goldberg, populist eruptions no longer can be assumed to favor more government.

Perhaps most amazing is how federal spending and the national debt — topics previously considered about as interesting to most people as watching paint dry — are now suddenly, in Goldberg’s words, “becoming a live issue.” Debt has become live indeed, as the latest Gallup Poll shows such worries tied with terrorism as voters’ top concern.

Surely a major reason why the nation’s national debt has become a central issue of the 2010 congressional campaign is its sheer magnitude. In less than two years in the Oval Office, President Barack Obama and the Democratic Congress, led by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have increased federal spending so much that the national debt has skyrocketed from $9.3 trillion to $13.3 trillion. If the Obama-Reid-Pelosi policies remain in force, the debt will double to $26 trillion in a decade.

Rick Berman of DefeatTheDebt.com offers this handy factotum to place such an otherwise-inconceivable notion in a manageable context: 1 million seconds require 12 days to elapse, while 1 trillion seconds require 31,000 years. No wonder, as Berman said, that “if we continue on this unsustainable path, we’ll soon be too deep in the hole to escape.”

Berman launched a national print, online and broadcast advertising campaign last year to raise public awareness of the magnitude of the debt problem. Readers may recall a spot that aired during the Super Bowl in which a classroom of children recited a pledge of allegiance to a nation lost in debt. The next phase of the Defeat The Debt campaign features Uncle Sam steadily digging a hole deeper, as kids implore him to stop putting them into greater debt.

There are close Senate contests shaping up in key states like Colorado, Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Washington, Missouri and California.

Defeat The Debt’s advertising campaign could be a decisive factor in those states, especially in races like that of Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., who trails GOP businessman Ron Johnson by two points in the latest Rasmussen Reports survey. That means Defeat The Debt’s TV spot showing a digging Uncle Sam could leave an indelible impression in Wisconsin and anywhere else it’s aired.

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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