Solomon and the Debt Ceiling

Can't we get Solomon to settle the debt ceiling extension?

As a friend pointed out to me at lunch today, the famous story of two women, both claiming to be the mother of a child, coming before Solomon to settle their dispute, seems to have great relevance to the current arguments over the debt ceiling, spending cuts and taxes.

In the biblical story, Solomon suggests that he will solve the dispute between the two women by using a sword to cut the child in two: "Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one, and half to the other." The actual mother proves herself by saying that she will give up the child rather than let it be killed.

In the present situation, Republicans, especially the new Tea Party extremists in the House, would rather see the economy destroyed than agree to any compromise that includes tax increases on the rich. President Obama, on the other hand, continually offers ever greater concessions -- far too great in the view of many of us -- which amount almost to giving the fate of the economy over to his opponents rather than let it be destroyed.

Where is Solomon when we need him to choose the one who will give so much to the other side rather than see his "baby" be cut apart?

{Robert S. McElvaine is Elizabeth Chisholm professor of arts & letters and Professor of History at Millsaps College, in Jackson, Miss. His books include The Great Depression: America, 1929-1941. He is now writing "OH, Freedom! -- The Young ' 60s."