Card-carrying Congress

By MARC MEWSHAW  |  January 23, 2013

Even if the fight doesn't get that far, the US economy could be in for a beating. Therein lies the hypocrisy of the Republicans' position. Though they claim to be looking out for the country's long-term fiscal health by using the debt ceiling as way to force the issue on deficit reduction, in fact their hostage-taking could do lasting harm. The 2011 debt ceiling debacle led to a grim milestone — the first-ever downgrading of America's credit rating. Who knows how much more damage the US's standing as safe haven and reserve currency might sustain if the GOP follows through on its threat of a knockdown, drag-out fight.

So far, Obama has ruled out any extrajudicial end runs like minting a $1 trillion coin. Instead, he seems to be counting on sanity to bring the opposition to the bargaining table. But with large swathes of the GOP still in thrall to Tea Party ideologues, that's a dangerous gamble.

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