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Why Debt Ceiling Deal Looks Out of Reach

Senators Mark Warner, Democrat of Virginia, left, and Saxby Chambliss, Republican of Georgia.

Tom Williams/Roll Call/Getty Images

Don’t rule out a last-minute deal on the debt ceiling, writes the New York Times‘ John Harwood; the stakes demand nothing less. Then again, don’t underestimate Washington’s capacity for endless deadlock, especially in this case. One reason: bipartisan compromise has just become more difficult, as lawmakers (and, to a slightly lesser extent, voters) have become politically polarized, a dynamic driven above all by fund-raising patterns and gerrymandered House districts. For all Obama’s talk, as a candidate, of bringing change to Washington, “if anything, it has grown more dysfunctional during his presidency,” says Harwood. Another: President Obama and Speaker Boehner aside, the key players in this crisis – the GOP House leadership, the ideologically zealous Republican freshmen Republicans especially – are relatively inexperienced. Finally, neither Obama nor the House and Senate are secure in their power – each could get booted in the 2012 elections, so that “[a]s all three reach for a solution, their margin for error has grown very small.”

‘Working With New Script to Stop a Train Wreck’ [John Harwood, New York Times]

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