The president of the United States has a transcendent duty to protect the nation, especially when the danger is clear and imminent.

Failure to raise the meaningless debt ceiling for the first time in American history (the same one that was upped seven times under President George W. Bush and 18 times under President Reagan) would have disastrous results: U.S. standing worldwide would be shaken; interest rates for all individuals and businesses would increase; growth, jobs and economic recovery would reverse; and, in sum, result in an economic and humanitarian catastrophe. Default, or even near default, would make our financial situation much worse and much more difficult to fix.

Americans elected a Democratic president, a Democratic Senate and a Republican House of Representatives to conduct the people's business. When an ideological minority within the Republican House holds the nation hostage and blocks all reasonable attempts to avoid default, the president must act in the interest of national security and raise the debt limit.

Once the nation is out of immediate danger, the three democratically elected entities need to address our long term financial challenges by following the balanced guidelines of every bipartisan commission, the bipartisan "Gang of Six" and the "grand design" developed by the Democratic president and Republican speaker of the House.

Next November the American electorate will issue its verdict on who was acting in the best interests of our country and who was acting in what they believed was their political self interest.

Roger C. Kostmayer, Baltimore