As we write this, deal-making in Congress seems to have faltered in the effort to stop the world's economy from driving over a cliff Thursday by dint of the U.S. defaulting on its debt payments.
And while proposals to address the debt ceiling and shutdown are still in flux, we've seen ideas that would allow everyone to walk away from the negotiating table looking like a winner — if a majority are willing to support them.
Plans in both the Republican-led House and Democrat-controlled Senate raise the debt ceiling until Feb. 7, but the stymied House proposal would only reopen the government through Dec. 15, while the Senate's would extend that to Jan. 15.
Meanwhile, the House proposal also would deny subsidies for Obamacare for members of Congress and their staffs as well as personnel in the White House, providing a pound of flesh for Tea Party conservatives, who wanted to do away with Obamacare.
True, the proposals only kick the can down the hallway (not even the road), and Congress will be right back in crisis mode early next year, but we are hopeful a stop-gap measure will buy enough time to craft longer-term solutions to the nation's spending and debt.
We have said before we favor a comprehensive mix of spending cuts to entitlements as well as revenue through the elimination of subsidies and some tax breaks, proposals such as those contained in the Simpson-Bowles plan.
We've also said we favor a discussion about eliminating the automatic debt “ceiling” altogether and giving the president the power to raise it on his own with Congress able to vote him down later if lawmakers wanted.
But in any case, the debate has to be recast in a way that doesn't keep the nation on the edge of disaster.
In a through-the-looking-glass moment, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Tuesday, “The idea of default is wrong and we shouldn't get anywhere close to it.”
Mr. Speaker, it's time to put your money — and the nation's credit — where your mouth is.