ONCE AGAIN, Congress is having a brawl over raising the debt ceiling, which limits how much money the Treasury Department is allowed to borrow to pay the government's bills. Such affrays are a Washington tradition, and all the customary rituals are being observed.
There is, to begin with, the hysterical doomsaying about the horrors that await us if the debt ceiling isn't raised — "financial Armageddon," "irreparable harm," "a cascading catastrophe." There are the furious accusations of partisan bad faith, as Democrats blast Republicans' "shameless" and "cynical" hard line against hiking the debt limit, while Republicans point out that Democrats control Congress and the White House and can raise the limit on their own. There is the charade by which both sides pretend that they don't know how this standoff is virtually certain to end: Democrats will offer Republicans some modest concession, and the increase will be passed with GOP support.
But above all, there is the utter irresponsibility of lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who, amid all the howling about the dire threat facing the United States if the government cannot meet its financial obligations, have done nothing to slow the soaring rise in the national debt. . . .