The occasion of our nation’s independence is not just a time for celebration. It is a time for sober reflection about the freedoms we enjoy.

America is, as many historians have observed, a noble experiment in personal liberty and self-government. It came about only as the result of our Founding Fathers’ decision to throw off the shackles put in place by an oppressive government that viewed us more as a revenue stream than as a people.

Once again, that attitude has taken root in government – only this time that government is based in Washington, D.C. rather than across the Atlantic Ocean. America is about to drown in a sea of red ink, let loose over the flood gates by an irresponsible spending binge.

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office recently published a report indicating that, if current trends continue, total U.S. publicly held debt will equal the size of the entire U.S. economy in just about a decade.

If that was not scary enough, the same report indicates that debt will grow to twice the size of the total economy just fifteen years further down the road. The debt is now above its current limit of $14.3 trillion, larger than it has ever been – and it only gets worse, with President Obama’s proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2012 ballooning the debt to $25.7 trillion in 2021.

The federal debt crisis has a direct impact on the nation’s business environment and the economy’s ability to recover from the recent recession. Progressively higher debt increases pressure for job-destroying taxes now and in the future, and drives interest rates higher than they otherwise would be, crowding out private sector investment.

In spite of this, the Obama administration and congressional Democratic leaders want to further increase the national debt limit without making meaningful spending cuts or reforms. This plan, a so-called "clean" increase in the debt limit, recently failed a House vote of 318-97. Every Republican and 82 Democrats voted against it.

It clearly hasn’t sunk in for the Democratic leadership that America is at a crossroads that requires bold action to once again seize the reins of self-government to place limits on what the national government can do, especially through its powers to tax and to spend.

An unprecedented coalition of nearly 60 conservative and 150 tea party organizations has launched a bold effort: The Cut, Cap, Balance Pledge, committing lawmakers to only consider increasing the debt limit if Congress first cuts spending substantially, caps spending, and passes a strong balanced budget amendment. These three substantive reforms will forever change the way Washington does business, providing a permanent solution to a perennial problem.

It’s a simple, straightforward approach that has been endorsed by more than, 6 presidential candidates, 12 U.S. Senators, 25 Members of Congress and over 83,000 newly-engaged American citizens – in the first week since it was launched.

We do not have to accept an unacceptable status quo any more today than we did in 1776. If we act boldly now and pass a Cut, Cap, Balance plan before raising the debt limit; we can save America, and ensure that the 21st century is known throughout history as the second American century.

Colin Hanna is president of Let Freedom Ring, a non-profit organization that promotes constitutional government, economic freedom and traditional values, and a member of the Cut, Cap, Balance Pledge coalition.