Recently, Texas' senior U.S. Sen. John Cornyn argued that a partial government shutdown might be justified to try to restore fiscal sanity to Washington, D.C. I tend to agree with him if it is done at the right time.There is a belief that Republicans should fight the president tooth and nail on every budget issue between now and the new deadlines in March. But I don't think another fight over raising the debt ceiling is worth it.The president and media have led us to believe that the debt ceiling is the be-all, end-all of fiscal cliffs. That is overblown. The government would still have money coming in, just not enough to meet every spending obligation, and wouldn't be able to borrow to make up the difference.We need a new focus on what's really going to make a difference: The continuing resolution has, by default, become the federal budget. That is where spending decisions are made and where the fight should be focused.Our first priority must be controlling federal spending. Without that, we can't get to anything else. I would urge the president and the new Congress to start working together now to avoid such a draconian measure as a partial government shut-down.We can't tax our way out of this dilemma. We need serious spending cuts, future spending restraint and real long-term reform of our entitlement programs.President Obama should be looking at this second term as a way to cement his legacy. I would think saving entitlement programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid by making the hard decisions to make those programs fiscally sound would be a legacy anyone would be proud of.These programs can be saved and our government spending can be controlled, and we can do it without new taxes. There are leaders in Congress who have good ideas on how to prioritize spending that will bring fiscal restraint, keep taxes in line and still save these entitlement programs and the federal government in general from financial ruin.I would say this to members on both sides of the aisle: It can no longer be "my way or the highway." We have run out of money, and the American people are running out of patience. We need to solve these problems. I have to believe there are still people with the political courage to do the right thing over the politically easy thing.While we should increase the debt ceiling and focus the fight on the continuing resolutions, I am not in favor of an unlimited debt ceiling increase. We should cut the budget by the same dollar amount that we increase the debt ceiling this time.That will mean significant cuts over time, and the only way to achieve that kind of savings will be long-term, permanent changes in how entitlement programs are funded and managed.Is getting this kind of long-term change worth a partial government shutdown? Yes, but it shouldn't have to come to that point.All sides must realize that the economy can't support the current spending levels of the federal government. This recovery will end very quickly if that spending isn't controlled, or if taxes are continually being raised.Bill Hammond is president and CEO of the Texas Association of Business.