“There is no changing how Washington works. It doesn’t.

“Even if a bitterly divided Congress and President Barack Obama avoid a U.S. debt default by striking a last-second deal, as all sides expect, plenty of damage has been done.

“People are disgusted. Confidence in the political system is tanking. Nothing else is getting done in Washington. The markets are spooked. The global reputation of the United States has slipped.

“And the real kicker? This whole wrenching effort to shrink the debt may actually increase the debt.”

“‘Every day we wake up and think that stocks will send a shock up to Capitol Hill. And every day nothing happens,’ the source said.

“He’s still holding out hope for a panic sell-off at the end of the day.

“‘It’s the only thing that’s going to bring everyone together on this,’ he said.”

“Hundreds of readers wrote to CNNMoney saying how much they depend on Social Security payments to keep a roof over their heads, food on the table and medicine in their cabinet. Even a one-month delay could wreak havoc on their lives, not to mention send their stress levels soaring.

“Libby Rowe already knows how she’ll use her Aug. 3 Social Security disability check, which comes to about $1,000. She needs it to pay the mortgage and utility bills. If it doesn’t arrive, she won’t be able to put gas in her car and will have to cut back on groceries…

“‘I don’t know how anyone with a conscience can let our country get to this state just to make a point,’ said [Jeani] Crowe, who lives on a farm outside Fallon, Nev.”

“I find myself less interested in ‘life on this planet as we know it today’ than in life on this planet as we’re likely to know it tomorrow if Nancy Pelosi and her chums decline to reacquaint themselves with reality. If you kinda dig life on this planet as you know it, ask yourself this: What’s holding the joint up? As the old gag goes, if you owe the bank a thousand dollars, you have a problem; if you owe the bank a million dollars, the bank has a problem. If you owe the banks 15,000,000,000,000 dollars, the planet has a problem. Whatever comparisons one might make with Europe’s soi-disant ‘PIIGS’ re debt per capita or deficit-to-GDP ratio, the sheer hard numbers involved represent a threat to the planet that Portugal or Ireland does not. It also represents a threat to Americans…

“America has had two roles in a so-called ‘globalized’ world: America’s government was the guarantor of global order; America’s economy was the engine of global prosperity. Right now, both roles are up for grabs. And there are no takers for the former. Pace Nancy Pelosi, ‘life on this planet as we know it today’ is going to change, and very fast.”

“Look, the parties are not that far apart here. We’re in rough agreement on how much spending we need to cut to reduce our deficit. We agree on a process to tackle tax reform and entitlement reform. There are plenty of ways out of this mess. But there is very little time.”