Debt talks show breakdown in governing
What the country is watching is a breakdown in governing that could be as corrosive to the political system as the possible financial default now looming could be to the economy.
Even before Friday’s collapse in the debt talks, public dissatisfaction with Washington was on the rise. The continued impasse threatens a further deterioration in public confidence.
There is great disagreement in Washington over the meaning of last year’s midterm elections, but it’s almost certain that most Americans did not vote for the kind of paralysis that now surrounds the negotiations over the terms of raising the debt ceiling.
Americans voted for, or got, divided government because the public doesn’t fully trust either party with the reins of power. That means the only way out of this problem is through compromise, or what one administration official called “bipartisanship by necessity,” not by choice.
Up until now, enough lawmakers haven’t been ready to accept that in order for a deal to be struck. So the clock ticks.
The nation’s leaders tried again Saturday to return to regular order after an extraordinary spectacle Friday night, when negotiations over debt and deficits gave way to acrimony and recriminations between President Obama and House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio). They have little time to repair the damage.
Friday’s dueling news conferences between Obama and Boehner were compelling as political theater. They were more revealing for what they said about why the talks have gone from impasse to near-agreement to collapse more than once over a period of weeks.