In the grand scheme of things paying off the debt isn't all that difficult assuming we can stuff creating debt. When we cancel unfunded mandates it woudn't be defaulting. That ignores the gorilla in the room of course that legitimacy of our union is not based on our ability to pay off our debt or fund pie-in-the-sky mandates. It's our ability to defeat anyone that comes to collect.
Really? You and I have a different definition of default. I'm 53. I've been contributing to Social Security "retirement insurance" since I was 16. For the last 15 years I've gotten letters from the SS administration telling me my "estimated retirement" at age 62.5, 66.5 and 71. If, in order to balance the budget FedGov renigs on that it sure will be a DEFAULT to me. What would you call it?
You say the debt would be easy to pay off, how? To pay off the first dollar we'd need to raise an additional $1.4 TRILLION in revenue (taxes) or else cut $1.4 TRILLION in spending- THIS YEAR. The 'brave' plan of Paul Ryan doesn't do that. It doesn't do 1/2 of that. It doesn't anticipate balancing the budget for 15 years. When Ryan will be out of the House.
It doesn't look easy to pay off, it looks impossible to pay off. There is NO candidate for President (except perhaps Ron Paul?) who has the guts to suggest we actually balance our budget next year or the year after.
We are addicated to debt and massive overspending as the worst junkie is to heroin. Like a junkie we might be saved if there is an intervention before we OD and die, but we don't have any close family members willing to do it, so we're headed for the OD. Maybe the ambulance and emergency room procedures will keep us alive and scare us silly and we'll make it. Or maybe the last shot will be too big for our heart and we'll expire.
There is no easy way out.