What we need is a two-step, $4 trillion debt-ceiling deal

What this country needs — and what the American people deserve — is a $4 trillion-plus, gimmick-free fiscal consolidation package that stabilizes and then reduces our debt as a share of the economy. Such a plan need not look exactly like the Fiscal Commission plan we produced, but it must cut wasteful or low-priority spending everywhere — in both the domestic and defense budgets, as well as the tax code where actual spending is dressed up as deductions, credits and other preferences. More importantly, this package must tackle the biggest source of our burgeoning debt — growing entitlement spending. That means it must slow the growth of healthcare and make Social Security sustainably solvent…

Given that, a two-part approach seems sensible, where policymakers agree to a large down payment now and follow it with more significant and structural reforms in the near future. For this to work, though, the down payment must be large — in the vicinity of $2 trillion — and it must at least begin to address entitlement growth.

And policy makers must agree — including with an honest process and strict enforcement mechanisms — to address the remainder of the problem before the next election.