As Republican brinkmanship intensifies, Barack Obama must hold his nerve

There can be no negotiation when there is nothing to negotiate

Share

The most powerful country on earth and the lynchpin of the international financial system is now 12 days into a shutdown of its government and five days from a potentially calamitous financial default. Responsibility for America’s absurd and unnecessary crisis is borne entirely by Congressional Republicans, driven by a right-wing faction that has seized control of the party.

The good news is that, after a fortnight of posturing, the Republican leadership – such as it is – appears to have grasped that its game of brinkmanship is leading to disaster for itself (the wider interests of the country seem not to figure highly in its calculations) and serious discussions to resolve the deadlock are now, finally, under way. The bad news is that the initial Republican proposals, discussed on Thursday at the White House, call for only a brief extension of the government’s debt ceiling – perhaps for six weeks – during which, we are told, the two sides might reach a long-term deal on the budget.

Sad to say, it is far more likely that no such “Grand Bargain” will be struck and that, some time in late November, Washington will be back to square one, scrambling yet again to stave off imminent default. After all, the current impasse is merely the latest instalment of a confrontation dating from the Republicans regaining control of the House of Representatives in January 2011. Nor, as of yesterday, was there any clear indication of when the shutdown will end, even though the overwhelming majority of Republicans now accept that the strategy of tying the re-opening of government to concessions by the President on his healthcare reform has failed miserably.

Barack Obama has won the argument, as every poll shows. Ideally, he must now stand firm. There can be no negotiation when there is nothing to negotiate – that is, when the House  of Representatives, driven by a minor faction,  is refusing its basic constitutional duty of permitting the government to pay its bills.

Elementary considerations of human sanity hold out the hope that debt default, and global financial meltdown, will be averted. Alas, however, politics is like war; to end a conflict, the winner must sometimes offer the loser a means to save face. Ultimately, resolution of Washington’s ridiculous crisis may depend on finding utterly undeserving Republicans a bolt-hole. But not yet.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Lawyer - Cheshire

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: CHESHIRE MARKET TOWN - An exciting and rare o...

Austen Lloyd: Residential Property Solicitor - Hampshire

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: NORTH HAMPSHIRE - SENIOR POSITION - An exciti...

Recruitment Genius: Gas Installation Engineer

£29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Gas Installation Engineer is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Technical Surveyor

£28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Domestic Gas Technical Surveyor is req...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Michael Brown was shot and killed by police in August  

Ferguson: The sad truth is that Michael Brown was killed because he was a black man

Bonnie Greer
A protestor poses for a  

Ferguson verdict: This isn't a 'tragedy'. This is part of a long-running genocide of black men in America

Otamere Guobadia
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital