Is Detroit’s economic plight a bellwether for the nation? “Detroitification,” a phrase coined by my colleague, Jack McHugh, is defined as the hollowing out of the private economy to prop up unsustainable (and often unresponsive) government establishments. Is this an apt description of Washington’s policies?

The comparison seems unavoidable with the federal government spending at a frenetic pace and racking up record debt, while adding to the numbers and cost of government employment. According to USA Today, during the period of the current recession, “The number of federal workers earning six-figure salaries has exploded.” While Americans struggle with unemployment, falling wages, failing businesses and housing foreclosures, federal employees are flourishing on the taxpayer dole. Josh Barro, senior fellow with the Manhattan Institute, refers to this trend as "Two Americas."

One example from USA Today: “When the recession started, the Transportation Department had only one person earning a salary of $170,000 or more. Eighteen months later, 1,690 employees had salaries above $170,000.” In just one federal agency, the top echelon bureaucrats have padded their generous government packages to the tune of $287,300,000. So much for shared sacrifice.

The decades-long policies that fattened the public sector at the expense of the private have produced tragic results in Detroit. Only if our elected officials realize that the private economy does not exist to provide for the political class, can the nation avoid Detroit’s fate.

And this will only happen if voters bring it to their attention.