The stakes are high, for the economy, the financial markets and both parties. But the pressure was particularly intense on Republican leaders, who only weeks ago seemed to be on the offensive and in a strong position to extract major concessions from Mr. Obama and the Democrats.
For months, the Republican leaders have emphatically pledged that there will be no increase in the federal debt ceiling absent huge cuts in government spending and fundamental changes in popular social programs, all without the whiff of a tax increase.Now, with negotiations stalled and a potential default by the United States government just over the horizon, they are being held to those promises by their own rank-and-file, leaving them in a bind that is defying easy resolution and putting them at risk of being blamed if things end badly.Behind closed doors and by phone, they groped for a solution and struggled to assert some kind of control over the situation as rank-and-file Republican members, especially in the House, grew more confrontational.Panic had not yet set in, but the worry and tension were evident as seasoned lawmakers of both parties whose experience told them that Congress always finds a white-knuckle way to avert disaster wondered if this was going to be the time when it did not.“Our problem is, we made a big deal about this for three months,” said Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina.“How many Republicans have been on TV saying, ‘I am not going to raise the debt limit,’ ” said Mr. Graham, including himself in the mix of those who did so. “We have no one to blame but ourselves.”
The Rethugs have attempted to make this situation a zero-sum game. However, they seem not to understand that they are playing with Napalm, and a huge negative-sum outcome is a very realistic possibility.
H/T to P6.