Washington needs to wake up

A few thoughts on the shutdown of the federal government and how to end it:

First off, we agree that something has to be done beyond extending the debt limit every six months or once a year to avert the United States eventually reaching a Greece-style financial crisis.

Second, neither side currently has the high road, nor the time, to be bickering and looking for political victory.

Americans did not elect an imperial president with a crown, so the last time we checked, the executive branch – the White House – does have to respond with something beyond “we won’t negotiate” when the people’s house – Congress – has a problem with the way things are going.

Congress also needs to recognize that my way or the highway doesn’t work when the gamesmanship is with the standing of the nation in the world’s eye.

A default on debt would be a disaster, and it does not solve the still avertable – if painfully so – crisis looming beyond the next political kicking of the can down the road.

For like the road leading to the edge of a real cliff, the closer one gets to the fiscal cliff, the less room there is to veer, or to kick the can.

The fact remains that the nation has wracked up a massive, multi-trillion-dollar deficit. It’s not going to go away, no matter who caused it, no matter who wins the blame game.

The fact remains that, like a household that gets its credit card limits extended time and again, eventually the bills come due and the extension of credit no longer will be possible, or sufficient, to cover the next round of debts.

The time to act was probably two election cycles or more ago, when there was still a chance to undertake less-than-painful cuts in programs that matter to people’s wallets.

The closing of national parks and the loss of money for returning veterans memorial services is just the tip of a very big and costly iceberg that the politicians seem unwilling to face.

With approval ratings possibly in the negative numbers for Congress and falling for the president, it’s time for Washington to wake up and act before what little faith people have in their government is gone.

We favor the idea of continuing to pay the debt but continuing the shutdown as a way that could, perhaps once and for all, lead to something other than kicking the can ever closer toward the cliff.