Commentary: Will Congress do what's right after exhausting the alternatives on debt ceiling?

In the late 1990s, when Alaska was facing the prospect of exhausting its budget reserves in a few years and contemplating a "train wreck," then-House Speaker Brian Porter took a philosophical view of the situation.

He said that Alaskans would do what we always do -- wait until things reached critical mass and then respond.

In Alaska's case, rising oil prices have kept the mass from critical for six or seven years now.

Not so in the case of Uncle Sam. Opinions differ on what exactly will happen if Congress refuses to raise the debt ceiling and the United States has to figure out which bills to pay after Aug. 2. Some tea partiers want to drive government up against the wall and through it, forcing massive cuts through involuntary triage. But most Americans, including most members of Congress, want nothing to do with that economic experiment.

Already there's fear that the United States' credit rating will fall for the first time in history even with a deadline deal on debt. Resulting higher interest rates mean we'll all pay more for everything from homes to student loans. That's not an outcome anybody wants, but we may be headed there no matter what deal is struck.

Where does this leave us? Envious of those who hold gold and harvest victory gardens?

Don't break out the camo and MREs yet. The House may or may not vote on the Boehner plan, but reports out of Washington suggest we should temper our discouragement with a little faith that behind all the rhetoric there's enough sense -- if not statesmanship -- to keep the Republic running.

More than one American has thought of Winston Churchill's line during this sorry political war -- "The Americans will always do the right thing... after they've exhausted all the alternatives."

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