How do you know when the country is really in trouble?
When you’re rooting for Goldman Sachs alumni to have more influence in the White House.
A debt-ceiling showdown is fast approaching, and the health of the global financial system is at stake. U.S. Treasury bonds are seen as the safest of safe assets; even the smallest insinuation that we might not make good on these IOUs could set off a chain reaction of panic and chaos throughout the world.
This is precisely why the debt ceiling so often gets taken hostage, of course. Every year or two, Congress has to raise the federal debt limit so the government can continue paying the bills it has already incurred. And every year or two, wily, attention-seeking politicians see this as an opportunity to make demands in exchange for their votes.
The hostage-taker is sometimes the minority party and sometimes rogue members of the majority party desperate to raise their profiles (looking at you, Ted Cruz). Sometimes those voting against a debt-limit increase are merely grandstanding, knowing full well that they can free-ride on the more responsible members who will vote for it.
As stressful and costly as these debt-limit showdowns have been, to date there have always been grown-ups around — a hero or two to rally the necessary votes and rescue the world from the brink of disaster.
This time, though, there are a lot of aspiring hostage-takers and precious few heroes.
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