In his State of the Union address, President Obama no doubt will promise to attack the deficit. Trouble is, the deficit is only a symptom of a chronic disease that strikes at the very heart of democratic government. The disease? Fiscal sclerosis—setting future national priorities in stone long before the future has arrived. Our fiscal arteries are so clogged and hardened that to do anything new, meet any emergency, or engage any new opportunity, the president must renege on past legislators' promises. If he doesn't address unsustainable promises head on, government will be tied up with yesterday's problems and the demands of yesterday's voters.