Stepping back from the details of the debt limit deal just reached, I think this was a productive summer in Washington. In July in most years, nothing gets done in Washington. This July, there was some progress made to restrain the growth of the federal debt. Normally, as a nation, we are preoccupied with something utterly inconsequential during the summer. At least over the last month, our elected representatives were finding ways to negotiate with each other and reach an agreement on something of consequence.
Did we do ourselves proud with this extended soap opera? No, the need to use the debt ceiling as the forcing event and the juvenile way that the negotiations sometimes played out certainly didn't elevate our standing in the world. But I'd rather have the deal than the standing at this point. And there really was little concern that the federal government would default on its explicit debt.
Is this a great deal on the budget? No. It is worse than several of the intermediate proposals offered during the negotiations. (I would have taken this offer and run with it.) It is worse than the Simpson-Bowles recommendations. But it is something, and it may even be a start. When the Congress returns from its summer recess, we will still have a long-term budget problem, and the Congress will still be responsible for solving it.