The issue is not debt - that's merely a means to an end. The issue is - and has been for many years - the size of government. What's different this time is that many of the maniacs in Congress are clearly willing to sell the country down the financial river in pursuit of that goal. From Andrew Sullivan:
Federal tax revenues are at a 50-year low; marginal rates are lower for many than they were when Reagan was president. In a divided government, any achievement requires some sacrifice from both sides. And yet the GOP is insisting that its side offers no sacrifice, even as the other party controls the Senate and the White House. Their own party, moreover, contributed dramatically to the debt we now face. And there is no clear evidence that raising revenues will lead to economic decline. Ronald Reagan's tax hike to deal with a much smaller debt in 1982, as Bruce Bartlett shows, preceded a burst in growth. The tough budget calls, including tax hikes, of GHW Bush and Bill Clinton led the way to economic growth far outpassing that after George W. Bush's bankrupting tax cut.
The notion that no revenues can be raised in the current crisis is, quite simply, nuts. You can even do it without raising rates, by eliminating tax expenditures/breaks. But even that golden Bowles-Simpson compromise is too much for these fanatics - even if the president coaxes his side into swallowing big spending cuts. This is brinksmanship with all of our lives, our money, our core financial stability and future growth. It is an outrageously reckless way to run a government.