Here's my guess: the best time to do this is in 2013. The Republican Party needs to get the tea party out of its system and wait for guys like Glenn Beck to outlive their 15 minutes of fame. They need to get over the idea that another two years of lunacy will allow them to win back the White House. Barack Obama needs to win reelection without promising to extend the Bush tax cuts. And the rest of us need to let the economy recover so we're dealing with the deficit from a position of realism, not panic.
That's a hell of a lot of future conditions we cannot possibly foresee with any assurance. I'm relieved to see that a small group of Senators may be trying to find a way forward, which includes spending cuts and some tax increases. But we just had an election where ostensibly the winning party was intent on cutting debt and spending. That doesn't happen very often. We have a bipartisan debt commission set up by Obama with the obvious basic answers. We have a president who has shown an ability to compromise and who promised not to put off the hard decisions. And yet Washington's village wisdom is that we should put it off another two years.
One day, we are told, we are going to have an "adult conversation". How can we when we are governed by frightened, selfish children - and those who find excuses for them?