A crisis was averted as Republicans and Democrats in Congress reached a compromise on raising the debt ceiling Tuesday.
In the process, the Republican-controlled House, Democrat-controlled Senate and President Obama took an important step toward bringing fiscal responsibility to the federal government. While the compromise does relatively little in gaining control of the $14.3 trillion national debt, it nevertheless does call for at least $2 trillion in cuts over the next decade, which essentially means the U.S. won't have to borrow as much.
It's a step in the right direction. The debt is a huge problem that is going to take decades to get under control. Right now, the U.S. is paying a shocking 40 percent of its bills with borrowed money.
Given the fragile state of the economy, it's best that spending wasn't dramatically slashed. Federal money fuels millions of jobs and keeps money circulating. Now is not the time to put even more folks out of work.
However, liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans hated this compromise. Each side was laying on rhetoric thick right up until the time to vote arrived.
In the end, nine of the 11 members of Washington state's congressional delegation swallowed hard, plugged their collective noses and voted for the debt-ceiling compromise.
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Spokane, was looking for deeper cuts in federal spending, far deeper than we believe would have been wise given the lousy economy.
She kept up the rhetoric right up until the end, demanding deeper cuts without higher taxes as the route to bringing the debt problem under control.
Yet, in the end, she voted to keep the ship -- the U.S. -- from hitting the rocks.
"Is this a 'perfect deal?' As Speaker Boehner has said many times, 'no.' It can't be perfect when House Republicans control only one-half of one-third of the government," McMorris Rodgers said in a statement emailed to her supporters. "But it's another big step forward in our efforts to bring fiscal sanity to our nation and to preserve the American Dream for our children and grandchildren."
Reps. Jim McDermott and Adam Smith, both Democrats from Western Washington, cast the delegation's two no votes as a protest. McDermott said he thought the cuts approved were too deep while Smith said he wanted a mix of new revenue, cuts and entitlement reform.
We, too, would have preferred a more balanced approach, although we see reduced spending as the key. Still, the debt problem has become so big that cuts alone won't fix it.
But we also understand that economic realities of today. The nation has to move relatively slowly so recovery from the Great Recession is not derailed.
In the end, the compromise was the best approach and the conservatives and liberals who came together to support it did the right thing.