Think of this as Volume 15, Number 32 of A-Clue.com, the online newsletter I've written since 1997. Enjoy.
The simple answer is a lack of growth.
If economic growth were strong, the debt would not be a problem. Republicans don't see growth coming, and see that as a good excuse to go back on the promises we made decades ago, to see people into a comfortable, healthy retirement through Social Security and Medicare. They think that if that money can be “put to work,” in the fossil fuel industries, that growth will return.
The key fallacy in the previous paragraph is not where you think it is. It's in the phrase “fossil fuel industries.” We can no longer get long-term growth through fossil fuels, as we have for the last two generations. We can only get scarcity. Every barrel of oil or mcf of natural gas we produce, every ton of coal we tear from the ground, means there's one less left. No matter how much there may be, the cost of getting it will not go down, ever.
This is not news. Nixon knew that domestic supplies were headed down a generation ago, that the abundance of the previous generation was winding down. The energy prosperity of our generation, what there has been of it, was bought with blood. All the energies of our foreign policy, all our wars, over the last 30 years, have been fought for one reason and one reason only – to assure the monopoly of power needed to bring oil, gas, and other natural resources to our markets, at a price we could control.
The Big Mistake of our time, and I'll repeat it because it's important, was Al Gore's decision to make this fight a moral fight, a fight over “the Earth,” rather than what it is, an economic choice. At this point in time, his arguments are completely counter-productive to the simple truth.