Watching the imbroglio over extending the federal debt limit has been morbidly fascinating, rather like watching a huge and extended auto wreck in slow motion or the Episcopal Church, as it slowly and permanently goes off the rails. At this writing it looks as if a deal between the House and the Senate is just about in place, which will permit our government to run up an additional $3 trillion dollars on the credit card, in exchange for some cuts now and more later (mind you, they are not really cuts, rather cutbacks in increased spending so as not to exceed the new debt limit).
While the agreement in itself may not strike debt hawks as all that substantial, something far more remarkable will have occurred upon its signing, something we have never seen before: the public fisc as a campaign issue. To that end, the terms of the deal, whatever they are, are almost immaterial. The recognition at last by some officers of the body politic and, even more important, the majority of the American public, that we are on the road to ruin, that drastic action (far greater than any deal made today) must be taken, a song sung in decades past by only a few lonely Cassandras and only to be ignored, should cause a collective sigh of relief, for it is doubtful now the song can be ignored any longer.
This would not have happened had John McCain been elected president. He and his fellow career Republican hacks, rightfully derided decades ago as "bookkeepers to the welfare state," would, of course, have continued the spending party but would have done so "cautiously," via nickels and dimes (i.e. mere hundreds of billions as opposed to trillions of dollars) so that our present indebtedness would not have appeared quite so ominous, thus making it easier to put off dealing with till another day. It took true visionaries like Barack Obama and his Democrat minions in Congress, with their visceral hatred and stupefying ignorance of free markets, to jack the national debt up into the stratosphere and thus, finally, get the country's attention. You could say we owe them a debt of gratitude for that.