MEGAN MCARDLE ON DEBT AND TAXES: “So, today we banged our head against the current debt ceiling for the first time. Think of the country like a tall person who has just moved into an unusually cheap and small basement apartment. The first bang is the most surprising, but it’s not catastrophic. In fact, it’s not likely that any particular head bump will be catastrophic. Nonetheless, taking up residence in that space is a catastrophe. . . . Fiscal crises are–ahem–inherently unpredictable events.”

If you want to see just how bad the problem is, go here and spend some time working the calculators. You’ll quickly realize that minor adjustments in taxes and spending won’t fix things. Hell, zeroing out Social Security or defense won’t fix things.