Thursday, June 30, 2011

playing "chicken" with our economy

I'd heard of the teenage male game of "chicken," where two drivers race toward each other and hope that the oncoming car swerves first, but I never knew of any actual contests.  I guess it was a Hollywood idea that got put into a lot of teenage movies in the 1950s and then taken a a real phenomenon.

It now looks increasingly as if Democrats and Republicans are about to play "chicken" with the debt ceiling legislation. I agree with Norm Ornstein that the widespread view that the politicians will work something out may not be correct in this case. Too few lawmakers realize the damage that can come from even waiting til the last minute. Too many think the consequences of even temporary default are minor and remediable. I saw things work out in the 1990 summit that worked out the Budget Enforcement Act. There was some posturing, of course, but the negotiators knew they had to cut a deal, and they compromised accordingly. I worry that the same level of statesmanship is lacking today.

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