America’s Endless Budget Battle

Perhaps investors are becoming inured to America's annual debt-ceiling debacle, now playing out for the third year in a row. But, as the short-term antics become more routine, the risks of long-term dysfunction become more apparent.

GENEVA – Perhaps investors are becoming inured to the United States’ annual debt-ceiling debacle, now playing out for the third year in a row. But, as the short-term antics become more routine, the risks of long-term dysfunction become more apparent – a point underscored by the shutdown of the federal government.

President Barack Obama is right to complain of blackmail. The US Congress cannot expect to use the threat of default – that is, a weapon of mass financial destruction – as a normal means of extracting concessions. Unfortunately, because Obama himself has established a history of making concessions in the face of congressional brinkmanship, the debt-ceiling debate has morphed into more than just a short-term political fight.

Increasingly, the battle over the US government’s debt ceiling reflects a deeper constitutional power struggle between the president and Congress. This struggle, if left unresolved, could profoundly weaken the government’s ability to make significant economic decisions in the future.

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