Attempts by members of Congress to head off a partial U.S. default on our country's debts are coming fast and furious, as the date when the federal government will run out of money to meet some of its obligations is now only four days away.
One plan after another -- involving more borrowing, higher taxes, spending cuts or a combination of those things -- has been proposed and voted down. Other ideas have been dismissed before they could get a vote.
And yet, next Tuesday's deadline to raise the debt limit draws closer and closer.
At least as of this writing, it is a possibility that the U.S. government will in fact go into partial default early next week. While the government will still have tens of billions of dollars in tax revenue, it will have tens of billions of dollars in financial obligations beyond what that tax revenue will cover.
That means Washington will have to make choices about which bills to pay and which bills not to pay. There will be enough money to continue paying Social Security benefits, military salaries and other essentials. But things that may not be truly essential but are nonetheless important may not be funded until Congress comes up with a debt limit solution.
Commendably, conservative members of Congress have so far held firm in favor of large, necessary spending cuts -- and no tax increases. After all, with our national debt at a mind-boggling $14.3 trillion, it should be obvious that America's problem is out-of-control spending, not insufficient taxation.
Nevertheless, the Democrat-run Senate has killed or promised to kill any really serious budget-cutting measure that makes it out of the GOP-controlled House.
So Congress as a whole -- not to mention President Barack Obama -- isn't ready to face financial reality, and the march toward partial default continues.