Did you see what's happening in Rhode Island right now on the budget front? It might give us some clues as to what the federal government may some day experience.
Like many states, Rhode Island is getting hit hard by the recession, as tax revenues are way down, and even deeper budget cuts are going to be needed.
The state's Governor, Don Carcieri, announced a plan earlier this week that might seem over the top to some, as he said state offices would be closed for 12 days to save money.
That's over two weeks of business days when the state government will be shuttered.
How does that relate to the federal government? Well, the feds at some point will have to bridge the gap on trillions in red ink.
Neither party is ready to make those choices. No amount of talk about cutting "waste, fraud and abuse," will do the job. Yes, there are millions and billions to be saved, but it's not the answer when you have a White House projecting $9 trillion in red ink over the next ten years.
Then there is pork barrel spending, which I have detailed repeatedly on this blog in recent months. But if you cut out all the pork in this year's spending bills from Congress, it wouldn't come close to $100 billion.
Yes, it would be a start, but it's not the answer.
What's the answer? Major budget changes. Major budget cuts. And probably extra tax revenues.
No one likes that kind of combination, but short of winning the lottery, the federal government is going to have to confront its budget demons at some point in time.
Will that mean days of closing the government to save money? Will it mean drastic budget cuts as we've seen out in California this year?
The options aren't pretty. Then again, Congress has shied away from making the tough choices for a long time.
Just remember that the budget looks "better" each year because the feds use extra money brought in by Social Security to make the deficits seem smaller.
I'm not interested in who's to blame. I would like to hear some answers on how it gets fixed.