Like many others in the United States and around the world, I have been following the negotiations between Republicans and Democrats in Congress and the President about raising our debt ceiling with a mixture of anger, fear, and profound frustration. It is extraordinarily important that a deal get done, yesterday.
The thing that rankles me most is that critics of raising the debt ceiling liken it to expanding a profligate's limit on his credit card. As the Washington Post recently explained, this analogy is false. What we are talking about is not expanding our ability to incur additional debt, but agreeing to pay creditors we already owe. In other words, we've already swiped the credit card, and now we need to pay the bill. And like all debtors, if we don't pay our bills in a timely fashion, our creditworthiness will suffer.
This is an entirely separate issue from the need to reduce the nation's debt over the medium- and long-term, which is indeed of the utmost importance. But the conflation of the two issues is leading us down a foolish and dangerous path towards default.
The Onion recently provided its take on the issue, which would be funny if it were not so close to reality.