Behind Battle Over Debt, a War Over Government
The endgame in the fight to increase the nation’s debt limit has only begun, but intense exchanges this week between the two parties have made it clear that this is not so much a negotiation over dollars and cents as a broader clash between the two parties over the size and role of government.
What makes a bipartisan “grand bargain” so elusive is less the budget numbers, on which compromise could be in reach, than each side’s principles, which do not lend themselves to splitting the difference. President Obama wants deficit reduction, including tax increases for wealthier Americans and corporations. Congressional Republicans, prodded by a cadre of junior lawmakers, want a vastly smaller government constrained by lower taxes. The two are not the same thing.
Mr. Obama will make his case on Friday in a White House news conference, his third in just two weeks.
However this showdown is settled, it seems increasingly likely to define not only the legislative record of this Congress, divided between a Republican-controlled House and a Democratic-controlled Senate, but also the 2012 elections and Mr. Obama’s prospects for a second term.