Cal Thomas‘ latest column pinpoints a key reason for the federal government’s debt crisis.

“Always pay the bank,” was my father’s sound advice. And so I have, which is why my credit score remains high.

Not so with the United States government. Under both parties, but especially free-spending Democrats, the greatest nation on Earth has seen its credit rating downgraded from AAA to AA+, putting us on the same level as Belgium and New Zealand.

This would be shameful — if America had any shame left. In our race to give everyone what they want, politicians have failed miserably to give us what we need.

Saying “no” is not in their vocabulary. Living within our means has been replaced with “entitlement,” “spreading the wealth around” and “fairness.” Instead of promoting people who have made the right decisions that have allowed them to be self-sustaining and contribute to the nation’s health and strength, President Obama and congressional Democrats ridicule and seek to penalize the successful (while happily receiving their campaign contributions). Success and wealth are frowned upon, while failure and poverty are a kind of preferred righteousness worthy of being subsidized by the “evil” productive.

This attitude is the polar opposite of the optimistic, risk-taking and reward culture that built and sustained America through previous economic downturns. And it has become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Who will lead us out of this mess and make the necessary spending cuts?