Why Obama and the Republicans will reach an agreement on the debt ceiling.

Who's winning, who's losing, and why.
May 16 2011 6:51 AM

We've Seen This Movie Before

The fight over the debt limit is following a familiar Washington script.

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DemocraticFreakout. Democratic officials complain that the president isn't doing enough. He's selling them out in a final deal with Republicans. Democratic senators expressed this sentiment in a meeting with Obama and his aides last week.

Tea Party Freakout. Various Tea Party-affiliated activists claim that House GOP leaders are selling out. (This also happens with each sunrise.)

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Uh-Oh, Daddy'sHome. Obama weighs in and tells both sides to stop playing politics in order to get a deal. If you want a good seat for this coming act, go to the White House briefing room: That's where he did it during the tax cut fight and government shutdown tussle.

We're All Doomed. News reports quote aides who say both sides have never been farther apart. A deal, if there ever was one, is crumbling.

Let's Make a Deal. Both sides believe doing nothing would harm the economy; they make a deal. That pressures the president because he'll get the large share of the blame if the economy slides. Republicans make a deal because they are boasting they're the adults in Washington, and shutting down the government or defaulting on its obligations doesn't suggest adult behavior.

Saturday serial hero Captain Marvel had a niftier suit than the boxy ones Washington politicians wear. But his ability to avert a crisis that looked certain to cause destruction was just as predictable. Of course, Captain Marvel faced outside forces of doom. In Washington, the politicians are just saving themselves from themselves.

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