A former White House budget chief is warning that the nation is facing a new “red menace,” not from Soviet missiles but one just as threatening: red ink.

Mitch Daniels, the president of Purdue University and the former two-term Indiana governor and one-time Bush budget boss, is warning that Washington has very little time to fix the economy and increase economic growth before the nation craters.

“It’s an issue which this generation will be judged on,” he said during a trip to Washington to encourage other educational institutions to demand economic reform. “Friends of the research enterprise should be out front demanding bold action to reform entitlement spending,” he said.

During a stop at the Christian Science Monitor media breakfast he worried that if growth stays around 2 percent, there will never be the needed money to pay off the debt and spend in areas needed to bolster the economy. Some economists have suggested that 2 percent will be a new “normal” for annual growth.

But at 2 percent, Daniels said, “we have thrown in the towel on being the country of opportunity for people." He added: "The federal government's got to have more revenue, but it's never going to get it at 1.5-percent growth where we are now."

He even came up with a depressing figure: Every 1-percent drop in growth below what's expected adds $1 trillion to the federal debt over 10 years.

Paul Bedard, The Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at pbedard@washingtonexaminer.com.