As Aug. 2 fast approaches, there’s a lot going on in Washington to try to come up with a fiscal plan that would garner enough votes in both houses of Congress to raise the ceiling on the national debt.

While the conservative majority in the House of Representatives has passed its own “cap, cut and balance” plan (with the aid of five members of the much-diminished “Blue Dog” Democratic caucus), that bill has no chance to pass either the Democratic-controlled Senate or survive a presidential veto.

Now attention has shifted to the outline of a plan being developed by a group of three Republican and three Democratic senators called the “Gang of Six.”

They propose changes to current spending and taxation levels designed to save an estimated $3.7 trillion from current plans, but their ideas are too new to be considered more than suggestions, and are too complex to be put forth in final form in the next two weeks.

Therefore, the central issue of the debate really is the same as it has been: The only really necessary thing to do is to raise the debt ceiling before the looming deadline hits.

Plenty of people believe the deadline is not as urgent as it’s been portrayed — and it is likely that the government will have enough money on Aug. 3 and for some time after that to make interest payments on the debt and meet other major obligations.

The impending crisis, however, has less to do with cash flow than with the potential reaction of global markets and America’s creditors, who can wreak havoc on the economy if they believe the United States is about to default on its obligations.

So, let’s raise the debt ceiling by enough to give us some breathing room.

Then we can address the need for long-term reforms.

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