A ten-year budget, like the Gang of Six has been hammering out for the last six months, answers an important question: How should we deal with our 10-year debt burden? But that's not the question facing lawmakers this week, which is Should we default on our debt? We should not default on our debt. We should pass a long-term budget. And we should act in that order.
As Congress refuses to pay its old debt until it gets very specific promises about future spending, it's worth remembering how bizarre this conversation would sound if it were held any place except Washington. Like, say, a restaurant:
"How much are we going to leave as tip for this meal?"
"I want ice cream after this."
"Okay, but what are we tipping?"
"Chocolate. With sprinkles."
"Yes, but first the tip..."
"Waffle cone, or sugar."
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