Sen. Joe Manchin launched a few trial balloons this week for dealing with the fact that the federal government is borrowing 40 cents of every $1 it spends and has run up a more than $16 trillion national debt.
Should Congress keep the Bush tax cuts in place?
Should Social Security recipients who make 250 percent of the poverty level be disqualified from annual cost-of-living adjustments?
What if the president and Congress let the Bush-era tax cuts expire by allowing tax rates to rise gradually over the next several years?
What the test crowd thought wasn't clear.
But Manchin seems to think that going over the fiscal cliff - allowing $1.2 trillion in automatic budget cuts over the next 10 years - would hurt a lot of people.
He said government should instead invest in programs like education and infrastructure, while cutting things like the defense budget.
This sounds suspiciously close to President Obama's position: No spending cuts until he gets $1.6 trillion more in tax revenue over the next 10 years.
Give him revenue first; he'll consider cuts later.
A recent study found that the median net worth of American households fell to $57,000 this year (in 2010 dollars). That's a 43-year low.
The Democratic Party seems to be insisting that the U.S. government cannot possibly cut its spending, and the only way out the mess it has made is for American households to cut theirs.
This is simply preposterous, and Republicans should say so.
Budget cuts must come first.