If not now, when?

President Barack Obama held the final press conference of his first term Monday, issuing a demand that Congress raise the federal debt ceiling, raise it quickly, and do it without demanding spending cuts.

“They (Republicans) will not collect a ransom in exchange for not crashing the economy,” the president said.

But if now is not the time to talk about cutting federal spending, Mr. President, when is a better time? We have proof that the government cannot and will not consider spending cuts unless there is a deadline, a debt ceiling or a “fiscal cliff” to compel action. Even then, the action is most likely to be an agreement to talk about it later. That’s what happened on New Year’s Day when a last second deal was worked out on tax increases, but the sequestered spending cuts were put off until February.

Well, February is getting closer every day. Not a word has been said about trimming the federal budget as a means of addressing the nation’s runaway debt.

If the president doesn’t want spending cut discussions to gum up the debt ceiling debate, let him take the lead on spending cuts. Let him work to find places to save money in the federal budget.

We agree that the nation cannot afford to default on its debts, but automatic increases in the debt limit will do nothing to get at the root of the problem.

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