Debt Ceiling: The Long Run Is Here

It's last call and you better be blind-drunk, three sheets to wind, because the saloon's only female, who's looking at you with a sly lascivious grin, is uglier than sin.

When one hears David Beers of Standard & Poor's yesterday on Fox News state that his credit rating agency may downgrade U.S. sovereign debt even before the August 2 deadline on hiking the debt ceiling, one knows that time has pretty much run out, it's last call, and there's only one option, and it's ugly. There's only one way to avoid the downgrade: raise the debt ceiling, immediately cut spending by billions, and commit to cutting billions more -- soon, not in the "out years" a decade from now.

The ever-reasonable Charles Krauthammer may well have the best plan out there, which he calls The Half-Trillion Plan:

The Half-Trillion raises the debt ceiling by that amount in return for an equal amount of spending cuts. At the current obscene rate of deficit spending -- about $100 billion a month -- it yields about five months respite before the debt ceiling is reached again.

You'll notice there's no mention of a balanced budget amendment. That's because the amendment does nothing to help us with our immediate problems: "default" and credit downgrade. If we can get real (immediate) cuts and save the nation from a credit downgrade, the Tea Party caucus should be willing to scuttle the amendment to get a deal. Do it in 2013.

But some in Congress may not want to raise the debt ceiling under any proposal. More than 40 percent of the federal government is financed by debt. Not all of that 40 percent is waste, fraud and abuse, and pork and earmarks account for very little of it. Some of that 40 percent is vital services.

The debt ceiling cannot be finessed. There are no pretty options. The "long run" is here. Time has run out. So let's buy a little time with Dr. Krauthammer's smart plan.

NOTE: You may be interested in my last blog.

Jon N. Hall is a programmer/analyst from Kansas City.

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