Because apparently nothing else works.
Here's how bad things are: The national deficit, fiscal year-to-date? More than $1.1 trillion, according to the Treasury Department. We had $2 trillion in revenue coming in, 3% less than last year. And we spent $3.1 trillion, 12% more than last year. And that's just for one year. The total national debt is nearly $31.5 trillion.
So. The fundamental threat to the full faith and credit of the United States isn't about paying the bills on time this year. It's our addiction to spending.
Making matters worse, the fixes for today's economy are worsening tomorrow's deficits. The Fed raised the benchmark rate a quarter point to get inflation under control. But that also means the government now will have to pay out higher interest on debt, making the deficit harder to close.
All of that adds urgency to the mission of cutting spending and maybe raising revenue in these tough times, both of which would be unpopular. Because let's be clear. Revenue means raising taxes, which Republicans want to keep low. And a lot of the spending is in entitlement programs, which Democrats want to keep high.
This debt ceiling drama will give each party cover to make essential but unpopular compromises.