U.S. Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pennsylvania) explains to the Wall Street Journal how the United States can meet its fiscal obligations without raising the debt ceiling. He notes that about 67% of federal expenditures can be met without further debt, which is ten times the amount needed to pay interest on the existing debt.
Sen. Toomey grants that, "[w]ithout the ability to borrow the other third, spending cuts would be sudden and severe: Projects would be postponed, some vendor payments would be delayed, certain programs would be suspended, and many government employees might be furloughed." However, to raise the debt ceiling without getting both discretionary and entitlement spending under control, he contends, would be even worse.
I question whether it is even possible to get federal spending under control, given the entitlements, our national politics, and the depth of the debt crisis. But if it is possible, we must begin somewhere; and Sen. Toomey has suggested a good place to start.