President Barack Obama is right in calling for a deal within 10 days to address our $14.3 trillion national debt - but his "deal" is not the right one if it means raising taxes and not massively cutting the spending that created the debt.
The debt didn't accumulate overnight, and it cannot all be blamed on the cost of wars and recessions. A great part of it is a result of irresponsible spending by us - through our representative federal government - over many years, for politically popular but unaffordable programs.
Now, even some big-spending members of Congress are admitting that the debt must be addressed.
We are on course to hit the latest so-called "debt limit" on Aug. 2 - just three weeks away. Unless Congress and the president do something, the United States will default on some of its obligations after that point. The most important obligations - such as paying our troops and sending out Social Security checks - could still be funded. But it is perilous to our nation's economic standing and to how we are perceived worldwide if we default on any part of the debt.
It would be equally irresponsible, however, once again to raise the debt limit - and allow massive new borrowing - without commensurate cuts in spending.
And with unemployment at 9.2 percent and rising, the "right thing" plainly is not to raise taxes and worsen the economic crisis.
Reducing unnecessary, unwise and unconstitutional spending now - and then more, year by year - would be a slow process, but it would be financially responsible.
Doing anything to reduce our debt will be painful. Doing nothing would be outrageous. This is a time for Democrats and Republicans, as well as the president, to face reality.
The president and too many of our lawmakers in Washington have not done so thus far.