The cheering and applause you didn't hear from Washington on Feb. 5 was over the Congressional Budget Office's report that President Barack Obama may be about to pass a milestone - his first year in office without a government spending deficit of more than $1 trillion.
CBO officials said the government probably will end the current fiscal year having spent $845 billion more than it takes in. That was no cause for celebration.
But the fact the deficit probably will be lower than once expected does put Obama's record in perspective. During his first four years in office, the national debt grew by $5.3 trillion. Analysts expect his second term to add at least $2.8 trillion to that - meaning that nearly 42 percent of the national debt built up over more than two centuries will have occurred in Obama's eight years.
Thus far, the president has gotten his way in refusing to cut spending while saddling Americans with higher taxes. But a new round of debate about that is just around the corner.
Clearly, it needs to be based on an admission that the United States doesn't just have a spending problem - but instead is in the midst of a genuine crisis.