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US debt ceiling: What's going on? And what are the papers saying?


Fears that America will default on its debts were soothed this morning as Senate leaders neared a deal that would raise the US debt ceiling, avoiding a potentially catastrophic blow to the global financial system.

Senators were also approaching an agreement that would allow the furloughed employees of the US Government to return to work and end the shutdown.

However, a sticking point has emerged insofar as Republicans in the House of Representatives have agreed on the concessions they want made to the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, which include a provision to suspend a tax on medical devices.

Their proposal is viewed as a last-gasp attempt to influence the agreement that would end the shutdown and avoid a default.

What are the papers saying?

CNN's Lateef Mungin points out that more than Senate co-operation is needed. House Republicans must agree to any bill passed by the Senate:

"No matter what the Senate agrees to, the House also must agree for this to get to the finish line. It's not at all clear that conservatives in the House will sign onto a proposal they dislike.

"Some still want to pass a bill with major changes to Obamacare, not merely the minor ones reportedly included in the Senate plan under discussion, and many are committed to spending reforms and are looking for a long-term deal to lock in those changes."

Looking further down the line is Paul Krugman, at the New York Times:

"Our current state of dysfunction looks like a chronic condition, not a one-time event.

"Even if the debt ceiling is raised enough to avoid immediate default, even if the government shutdown is somehow brought to an end, it will only be a temporary reprieve.

"Conservative activists are simply not willing to give up on the idea of ruling through extortion, and the Obama administration has decided, wisely, that it will not give in to extortion."

These tortuous negotiations could be bad for the GOP, adds Catalia Camia at USA Today:

"Everyone is mad at the political players in the federal government shutdown, but a new poll by ABC News/Washington Post shows Republicans are taking more heat than President Obama or congressional Democrats.

"A whopping 74% of Americans disapprove of the way congressional Republicans are handling the budget negotiations, according to the survey released Monday."