The federal government shutdown, courtesy of a true-believing congressional faction committed to ideological stalemate and political disarray, is merely the undercard to the debt-ceiling fight to come. The shutdown’s initial effect is not benign, but so far it’s characterized mostly by inconvenience and frustration. Failure to raise the debt limit, on the other hand, would potentially bring profound economic harm.
The federal government saw its credit rating downgraded when Congress flirted with default in 2011. If members of Congress take their flirtation a step further and prevent the government from paying its bills, they will be playing, as Douglas Cote, chief market strategist for ING Investment Management U.S., told the Los Angeles Times, “a form of Russian roulette with a loaded gun” — a guaranteed bullet to the nation’s head.
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