The latest standoff between liberals and conservatives in Washington has ended, and make no mistake about it: The confrontation may have been labeled as one between Democrats and Republicans - but it amounted to a duel between big-government liberals and fiscal discipline conservatives.
Leaders on both sides - President Barack Obama and Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., for the liberals and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., for the conservatives - helped explain the deal to end the standoff. A key to the compromise will be for both sides to save face. Both the Obama-Reid and Boehner-McConnell factions needed to be able to claim they scored some sort of triumphs.
But the victory Americans need is to get runaway spending under control. The national debt is nearly $17 trillion - about $52,000 for every man, woman and child in the country.
In a situation such as this, very few people really know the contents of political compromises. Lawmakers take their leaders' words for much of what is in the bills they approve.
Eventually, however, Americans will learn whether any real fiscal discipline is included in the compromise. If not, it will be no victory for the American people.