Thursday is the deadline for extending the United States' debt ceiling. Senate leaders Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid are working to reach a compromise.
If Congress doesn't act to up the debt limit, the country will not be able to borrow any more money. That is a problem for a government that currently borrows $1 of every $4 it spends.
That is the crux of the country's problem - we want a 2013 Cadillac government but only want to spend the cost of a 1949 Studebaker to get it.
Congress is beholden to two groups with vastly different views of government but who share one core belief: Their separate constituencies deserve the bulk of federal budgetary largesse.
It doesn't matter that one side - generally, the Republicans - think that largesse should come in the form of very low taxes (and specific tax breaks) for wealthy entities and the other side - generally, the Democrats - think their largesse should come from a Treasury pouring tax money into an entitlement spigot.
The GOP doesn't want to fork over the money for the taxes to feed the entitlements, the Dems are demanding more and bigger benefits for their supporters.
The compromise - unfortunately for the country - has been to borrow the difference between what the GOP wants to give the Treasury and what the Democrats are demanding be spent.
There is a reason the federal government runs year-after-year on continuing resolutions instead of a budget - no one wants the general public to know its representatives don't even make a token effort toward balancing expenditures with revenues.
The resolutions of the current stalemate over the government shutdown and the debt ceiling will no doubt just delay serious discussions about fixing the federal budget. We'll "kick the can down the road again" as we've been saying for years now.
But ignoring a problem doesn't make it go away. Our burgeoning national debt proves that.
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