I have a modest proposal to solve this debt ceiling crisis.
Here's a chart from the most modern of sources, Wikipedia, showing federal spending in 2010:
I'd like to take that big blue slice that's being hogged up by the military and cut it in half, but I know that's not very realistic. First of all, a good chunk of the money is spent on paying salaries to soldiers. A very small amount is spent on paying for veterans, and you can't cut that either -- and in fact as a percentage of military spending it's so scrooge-like it wouldn't make much of a difference to the overall problem of the deficit. So let's propose to cut a modest 20% from the military's chunk of the pie. Let's do it by forcing the military to adhere to the same austerity programs we force on education.
Beyond that, let's take a look at that big orange slice of pie called "discretionary spending." I would propose to eliminate every program currently in place in one of our free-loading states. The free-loading states are the ones that hog up more federal resources than they put in. Remember, we're talking states, so DC doesn't count in that equation. However, the major drains on our economy, such as Mississippi and New Mexico, can stop feeding at the federal trough.
Mississippi and New Mexico get two dollars back from the feds for every dollar they put in. Alabama gets 1.66 back. Alaska gets 1.84 back. Most of these states who are getting fat off the feds are the same ones who routinely elect people who are the most hostile toward Washington.
They're like house guests who invite themselves over then harangue you over how poor your cooking is and how uncomfortable your beds are, but they don't ever feel like doing the cooking or cleaning the house.
Seriously, if we could take these scroungers and make them pay their own way (ah, the irony of applying conservative rhetoric to "conservative" states), we'd save a hell of a lot of money. Do you know that outside of Texas and Florida, every state in the old Confederacy -- that bastion of anti-federal government politicians -- takes more money than they give? Do you know who foots the bill? Primarily the Northeast, upper Midwest, and California.
Let's stop paying their way.