"Don't tax you, don't tax me, tax that fellow behind the tree" ~ Senator Russell Long

So now the fiscal hawks have been asked to put their money where their mouth is and actually cut some spending, it turns out, they have some reservations.  I mean, of course, they want to cut spending.  They want it with a rare passion.  They just don't want to cut any spending that might, y'know, be done in their districts.

It is this sort of thing that makes me wonder if I ought to be despairing at our fiscal future.  I'm not, yet.  Most countries as developed as ours do get their deficits under control, when they have to.  We just don't quite have to at this point.  In our own past, when push came to shove, we shoved taxes up and put the brakes on spending.

On the other hand, California's crisis is rather novel, and perhaps it presages something in the federal future.  The fiscal hawks are living in a fantasy world where there exist some imaginary spending cuts that don't affect anyone's district.  Those who favor tax increases have convinced themselves--or at least, the electorate--that they can fix everything by raising taxes on a tiny slice of the very wealthy.  That way lies fiscal crisis.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.