I've got the pleasure of attending CPAC today, tomorrow, and Saturday. For out-of-towners, CPAC stands for Conservative Political Action Conference, and as Karin explained, is the biggest annual gathering of conservatives in the U.S.
This morning's events on the mainstage kicked off with two great addresses from Sens. Jim Demint and Marco Rubio. In true Rubio style, the senator emphasized how blessed we are to be citizens of the freest country in the world. That freedom, though, comes with the responsibility to be what Ronald Reagan called a "City on a Hill," an example to the rest of the world and a defender of the principles of liberty, decency, and strong moral values.
The panel that followed Rubio's speech, titled "It's the Spending Stupid," was moderated by Colin Hanna, president of Let Freedom Ring. Panelists included Sen. Mike Lee and Rep. Tom Graves. They discussed our nation's $15 trillion debt and the ramifications of continued deficit spending.
I remember hearing a sermon once in which my pastor said, "If you want to see what's in a person's heart, just open up their checkbook and see how they've spent their money." It's true that what we buy, and how we give, reflects what we value. But another reflection on our values is whether we've been responsible with money, and spent within our means.
This theme was inescapable in the panel on spending: How we spend is a moral issue.
One thing that Sen. Lee said really struck a chord with me. He said, "How can we lift others up if we are not on good footing ourselves?" I thought: How can we continue to guarantee the poorest people in our country that there will be a safety net if we don't take care to avoid a fiscal crisis? How can we be a "City on a Hill" – an example – to other nations struggling with debt when we are just behind them on the path to ruin? How can we verbally and symbolically encourage the next generation of Americans toward success, but at the same time saddle them with crippling public debt?
These are good questions. And they lead to more: How can anyone oppose balancing the budget? How can anyone favor increased government spending?
As Sen. Lee said, "When you are in a hole, stop digging."
Check back later for more live blogging from CPAC… I'm pumped to hear Arthur Brooks speak at 3:10!