The people, quite emphatically, want out-of-control spending dealt with. Their representatives have the power to effectuate that desire. The president can try to insist on borrowing and spending more, but the House gets to say no — and, on this matter, it is the president who should yield. That is not a constitutional problem; it is the Constitution in action.
The Republican establishment and the commentariat that claims it is time for conservatives to yield should stop posturing that their stance is about anything other than politics. They are worried that the media will blame Republicans if the debt limit is not raised, if spending is suddenly slashed, and if various constituencies in the dependency state are cut off cold-turkey from their federal goodies. They fear that President Obama — a class-A demagogue — will ride the ensuing chaos to reelection.
Those are not unrealistic fears. But they are secondary, and far from inevitable. It is entirely possible that the public already believes that spending has to be addressed now, that the crisis demonstrates like nothing else can how shockingly bloated the federal behemoth has become, and that President Obama — who is largely responsible for the mess — has to rein in his unceasing demands for more. It is entirely possible that people who don’t already believe these things can be convinced of them because they are true. It is entirely possible that, because conservatives in the House are doing what they were sent to Washington to do, the debt-ceiling crisis will be resolved on terms far more favorable to the American people — and future generations of the American people.
It may not work out that way, of course. But if it doesn’t, it will not be because of the politics. It will be because, lacking the will to confront what is killing us, we were already doomed.