Well about the debt limit - I think the argument is off course. The debt limit is about making good on current debt, and obligations we have already made via budget. Therefore I don't think that budget matters should have anything to do with talk of raising the debt limit. Defaulting on our debt means means our credit rating takes a hit. We ALREADY owe tons of debt and a good part of our budget just involves paying the INTEREST on that debt.
Consider how much we pay in interest alone, and that is with us getting the best interest rates possible. That is part of what makes that AAA credit rating so damn important.
Loose that rating, and those interest rates will rise - and therefore they will eat alot more of our budget. All this talk about cutting the budget will only spite the budget for the long term if we default. It will effect the dollar in a large way too, and potentially the US Dollar's place as the world standard. Oil for example, trades in US Dollars - and this could change. China has been positioning since the recession began to replace the US Dollar with their own currency(Yuan). This may give them what they need to pull it off.
Credit agencies are already beginning to evaluate a possible negative change in our credit rating even before default - only because we actually are letting it get this far. It may already be to late to dodge the bullet, but actually defaulting will have a bigger negative effect than "almost" defaulting. You debate how much to spend at budget time. This is not that time.
What politicians are doing to get what they want is alot like this scene from Blazing Saddles
Only they might accidentally pull the trigger.
Regarding the budget though we do need solutions. These solutions I don't think should be found at the barrel of a gun we are pointing at our own heads. Yeah that might be a slight exaggeration but I think the point gets across. Well our politicians are so damn worried about fighting over every area they disagree about and demonizing every move the other side makes into something it is not, that they pay no attention towards doing at least the things that would not be controversial. Could we could just take care of that stuff first, then look at the points of disagreement? At least you could get SOMETHING done!
Lets take one of those entitlements - Food Stamps. Republicans would like to fund it less(if not eliminate it depending on who you talk too). Democrats would fund it more or at least maintain it. What if instead of worrying so damn much about how much money you fund it with(aka how much money you throw at it), you start thinking about how to spend the money it gets more wisely?
You could (and people always DO) spend food stamp benefits on stuff that really should not be covered. I don't mean alcohol/tobacco - because contrary to rumors you cannot buy those with food stamp benefits(although the same card may also access any cash benefits for those who have that as well - which could in theory). I speak of people buying Hershey Bars, Pepsi, Chips Ahoy, etc. Now I completely support social safety nets like food stamps - that stops people from going hungry who often need it (even if you also have some people who just take advantage of the system). But... I don't support taxpayer dollars paying for anything beyond what is nutritionally necessary and good. If the people who have food stamps want these LUXURY items as well, then let them pay for them with their own money.
America probably has the fattest poor people in the world. I think that speaks volumes in favor of reform. Allowing people to spend taxpayer dollars on their chocolate addictions is a colossal waste of money in more ways than one. Besides loads of money wasted on the products they don't need, this has another "huge effect" - pun intended. Restricting food stamp benefits to REAL FOOD will save lots of money directly on the budget, and in ways that don't show up so obviously in the budget yet still effect it. These people become very unhealthy on the taxpayer's dime, then the taxpayer gets to pay for the healthcare they now need - Obamacare or no this was already true. Make these people buy only real food(save what little junk food they can afford on their own dime), and you save tons on healthcare too. Perhaps beaches will be nicer to visit.
I'm talking only real food - stuff like
Crackers(not flavored cheese crackers etc)
Sauces/spices(adds options to the noodles etc)
Fruit Juices(versus the Pepsi they buy now)
Bottled Water(not everyone has good enough tap water - myself included)
Sugar free water enhancers like tea bags and coffee. No Koolaid etc.
I'm on the fence about frozen pizza(more so for) and TV dinners(more so against). Partially I think that if a person is without a job or under-employed, then they probably have time to actually prepare and cook their own meal. If they want more than this, they can go work. If for some reason they cannot work, then at least they will not starve.
If you did this - you would not need to cut the budget for Food Stamps. Most likely, people would simply not spend
a good portion of their benefits anymore. Therefore, you will spend less money on it no matter what the budget says, and people will not go hungry. Yes, this will hurt the economy in the short term. Companies making junk food/candy will take a hit as will any store that accepts food stamps. I think its worth the pain. Anytime spending decreases in almost any area - this will happen. Ideally, we do things that cut effective spending during good economic times. But people are demanding it now. So here we are.
There are probably solutions like this to most any Government program. Do stuff like this, and our budget will look much nicer long term. I have some other things to say, but this post is long enough already. I may do it later.