First, it was the fiscal cliff; then, the debt ceiling; now, the sequester. What will it take for Congress and the president to get their collective act together and begin reining in government borrowing before ever-increasing debt drags us under for good?

When I found myself unemployed several years ago, I told my wife that we needed to cut expenses. I did not mean that she should come up with a plan to save 20 percent or 30 percent over five years or over 10 years. I meant spend less money tomorrow than you spent today. And spend less the day after than you do tomorrow. This should not be a difficult concept to understand.

You do not spend more money than you take in on an ongoing basis. You can borrow reasonably for capital expenses -- things that last -- like infrastructure investments. But you do not borrow money to fund everyday expenses -- what the accounting types call operating expenses -- like payrolls, farm subsidies and safety net payouts like food stamps. Failure to heed this simple creed inevitably leads to bankruptcy. Not a pretty picture for a sovereign nation like the U.S.

Why is this such a difficult concept for either Republicans or Democrats to grasp? Yes, it will be painful; yes, some donors will stop campaign contributions; some voters will move to throw the bums out. But at least we'll survive economically.

This should be one case where failure is unthinkable and unacceptable.

Eric G. Ziegler

Bakersfield