Washington is scrambling for answers as the U.S. economy slides into a recession, but the only “solution” our nation’s lawmakers seem to come up with is to douse the problem with money.

To date, our government has spent $7.4 trillion on everything from handouts to loans to guarantees, according to CNBC.com. This is no drop in the bucket either – consider that U.S. GDP for 2008 is only double that amount at $14.4 trillion.

All told, Washington has added $25,000 worth of debt to every American man, woman, and child. And that figure is likely to grow with bailouts being proposed for the Big 3 automakers, state governments – e.g., California – unable to keep their finances in line, and the countless other Capitol Hill lobbyists pushing for taxpayer money.

The bailout is more than just a financial boondoggle though; it threatens the foundation of our free-market economy. Competition, innovation, and risk/reward – these are what define the U.S. economy, what makes us great. And now Washington proposes to change those rules.

Thankfully, not everyone agrees. In Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford lay out the case for fiscal responsibility and a “less government is more” approach. Among the reasons cited: Americans are burying themselves in debt; our sense of personal responsibility is being lost; and the federal government can’t solve every problem, no matter how much it wants to.

I, for one, couldn’t agree more.

– James Quintero