Later, I joined the Bipartisan Policy Center's Debt Reduction Task Force (also known as the Domenici-Rivlin commission), which endorsed painful but necessary measures to put the country's fiscal house in order.
Using the debt ceiling as leverage in the deficit debate is unwise and dangerous. Citizens nationwide are frustrated with the political stalemate in Washington. But our nation's financial integrity should not be used as a bargaining chip.
Honoring U.S. fiscal obligations isn't a Republican or Democratic issue — it's the American thing to do. As George Washington said, "No pecuniary consideration is more urgent than the regular redemption and discharge of the public debt; on none can delay be more injurious, or an economy of the time more valuable."
Since May, the Treasury has used extraordinary measures to keep us from hitting the debt limit. We've been lucky to avoid it thus far, but time is up. With the U.S. economy and our nation's honor on the brink, our leaders must - in the spirit of patriotic compromise - do what it takes to make a deal.
Congressional Republicans must avoid scorched-earth tactics in pursuing their agenda on health care and deficit reduction. Democrats in Congress must begin to engage their constituencies in responsible discussions about the long-term outlook of government programs popular with their base.
In short, Republicans need to be more willing to say yes and Democrats must be more willing to say no. Disagreement and debate strengthen our democratic institutions. But we cannot allow honest differences of opinion, however diametric, to jeopardize the trustworthiness of our nation's credit.
If confidence is lost in our country's willingness to pay its bills on time, we will have lost something that may be impossible to regain - the world's trust.
Keating is CEO of the American Bankers Association. He was governor of Oklahoma from 1995 to 2003 and was a member of the Bipartisan Policy Center's Debt Reduction Task Force.