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America's House Of Cards Has Fallen

This column was written by CBS News Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith.

A house of cards. The United States economy is driven by consumer spending. The more we spend, the better. Until we spend so much we cannot pay it back. And then, the economy suffers.

How long do we really think we're going to hang onto our standard of living if we're living like college kids with our first credit cards?

A front-page piece in today's Wall Street Journal looks at the mortgage businesses which sold house loans, never really caring if the customers could pay them off because once sold, company commissions are made. Back in the day, one used to have to qualify for a loan, which meant proving one could afford it.

We're in for tougher economic times, even if Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke says he doesn't think we're in a recession. Well then why is New York mayor Michael Bloomberg slashing the city budget? Why is it you can't sell your home? Why can't you afford to send your kids to college?

Because the cards have fallen.

Harry's daily commentary can be heard on many CBS Radio News affiliates across the country.
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