An abiding impasse: There is little sign that US Republicans will cease to inflict deep damage on their country

The best hope of averting a new crisis lies in the 2014 midterm elections

Share

"We fought the good fight. We just didn’t win.” Thus John Boehner, Speaker of the House of Representatives and in theory the most powerful politician in Congress, after the deal that re-opened the US government and averted the calamity of a debt default.

The truth is somewhat different. Mr Boehner’s Republicans fought an ignoble and pointless fight that inflicted deep damage on their country. And to observe that his party did not win is putting it mildly. It achieved nothing of what it was seeking, most notably a postponement (read, scrapping) of President Obama’s signature health care reform. Instead it suffered a crushing defeat that – and this is the sole redeeming feature of the entire wretched episode – may just bring the party to its senses.

That outcome, alas, is anything but guaranteed. Judging by reactions immediately after the Wednesday evening Senate and House votes that ended the crisis, the ultra-conservative minority that has been holding America to ransom shows little sign of changing its ways.

In the meantime America must count the cost of this completely unnecessary exercise in futility. The $20bn direct loss to the US economy is only the start of it. Mr Boehner’s “good fight” has further poisoned the atmosphere on Capitol Hill, and distracted attention from far more important legislative issues, such as immigration reform and climate change. Then there is the damage to the country’s reputation and financial standing. Worst of all, the deal has settled exactly nothing.

The government is being funded again, but only until mid-January; the Treasury may borrow, but only until early February. There is absolutely no guarantee that the zealots, unchecked by Mr Boehner, will use these deadlines to provoke a repeat shutdown and a new round of brinkmanship on the debt ceiling.

True, under the agreement, a bipartisan joint House and Senate panel is being set up, with instructions to work out by 13 December a blueprint to balance the  budget, and thus resolve the arguments underlying this latest and previous  confrontations between Mr Obama and Congress. But few would give it much chance of succeeding where previous  attempts have failed, in reconciling the vast differences between the parties on taxes and spending.

Ultimately, the impasse is not economic but political, and will only be settled  at the ballot box. The best hope of averting a new crisis lies in the approach of the 2014 midterm elections, and Republican fears of a brutal backlash from voters.

A clear majority of Americans blame Congressional Republicans, not Democrats, for the autumn folly on Capitol Hill. If Republicans do bring about a repeat early next year, then they will surely bring down on their heads the electoral disaster their party both needs and deserves.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Letter from the Deputy Editor: i’s Review of the Year

Andrew Webster
RIP Voicemail?  

Voicemail has got me out of some tight corners, so let's not abandon it

Simon Kelner
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all