The total obligations of the US government include the funded debt (about $14.5 trillion) plus the unfunded liabilities associated with Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. The trustees of these programs estimate the present value of these obligations to be over $100 trillion. These estimates have traditionally trailed reality.These kinds of numbers never seem to gain any kind of prominence in the political posturing and "he's up, he's down" coverage of the media. I'm tempted to speak of the meetings of the president and congressional leaders as a "morality" play but politics long ago trumped morality in national fiscal matters. "Thou shalt buy votes with spending" has been the First Commandment, starting with Civil War pensions.
"Political language," said George Orwell, "is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind." The leaders will not speak truth on any matter and the people don't demand it. Pres. Obama let's out that our Libyan military action is something like a hot air balloon festival and the nation yawns.
The politicians are unwilling to touch the open nerve of democratic socialism, which is that theft is still theft if it's accomplished by majority vote of the politicians. For sure there's no discussion of this core principle. "Swag" is now termed "an entitlement." Present day Americans collect. Future Americans and foreign chumps pay. An imperfect breakdown of American exceptionalism but sufficient.
Leaving that issue aside, you still have the unreal failure of anyone to get behind a list of goals that would stimulate the economy. And I don't mean the totally false "stimulus" of massive spending and "quantitative easing," another form of theft. Taxing, borrowing, and spending depend on being able to skim off a portion of the river of commerce that's generated by free markets. It's obvious what's holding the economy back but politicians don't concern themselves with making that stream deeper, wider, and faster. To the politicians, genuinely stimulating the economy is a remote consideration.
The debt ceiling is a sort of hint, something on the order of an admonition you found when you were looking through that trunk in your attic and read that letter written by your long-dead great grandfather. "Always live within your means, children." Another way to look at ceilings is to think of them as the political version of "eat a nutritious breakfast." Any one ceiling represents more of a Burma Shave sign by the side of the road that you blow by than a "road closed 100 yds. due to river of molten lava" event.
We should get over it. Reruns of "Lassie" have more suspense than the periodic kabuki events like the current one. So maybe we should be looking at spending, what makes a healthy economy, and WTF we did wrong to get ourselves into this mess.
I haven't begun to do justice to Mr. Pelerin's excellent piece. Drastic spending cuts are what are needed, he says. Solutions proposed for the debt ceiling problem are "nothing but a political fix" and a "series of similar political fixes is why we are in this position." I say get real about the theft component in our national life and at least embrace the reality of the numbers subsequent to the theft.
We've embraced the whore of expediency for decades now, along with a healthy dose of subversion and treason since the 1930s, and now it's time for Grandma Morality to have her say.
 "The Debt Ceiling Charade." By Monty Pelerin, American Thinker, 7/14/11.
Obama's "stick it in your ear," KMA, bad-faith spending-debt-taxes stance:
"The Obama Downgrade. The real reason the U.S. could lose its AAA rating." Editorial, Wall Street Journal, 7/15/11.