End This Game of Debt Ceiling Chicken

Time to find enough responsible legislators to raise the ceiling.

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It was a horrible idea to begin with, pegging a debt ceiling increase to a big-sky deficit-reduction deal: a Molotov cocktail of long-term adjustments and short-term urgency.

Add to that cocktail a sputtering economy; a vacillating president who just months ago caved on tax-cut extensions he clearly did not favor but now raises the specter of Social Security checks and veterans benefits not arriving; and a GOP base whose fiscal views border on the cultic, and you have all the fixings of an economic catastrophe.

[Check out editorial cartoons about the budget and deficit.]

Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell dropped the nuke in a floor speech today: “I was one of those who had long hoped we could do something big for the country ... After years of discussions and months of negotiations, I have little question that as long as this president is in the Oval Office, a real solution is unattainable.”

In national politics, it rarely gets any blunter: There will be no “deal.” Instead, there will be a new president.

Maybe so--and fair enough.

But McConnell should recall that President Obama never asked for conditions to be attached to a debt-ceiling increase. Republicans can’t just walk away from a deal that only they insisted on, just as you can’t divorce someone you never married. [See photos of the Obamas behind the scenes.]

It’s time to pull the national--nay, global--economy out from under the guillotine’s blade.

The leadership of both parties should corral a responsible bipartisan majority on a clean, up-or-down vote on the debt ceiling. Let the Tea Party Huns howl in protest, and go shopping for a new president. [Check out political cartoons about the Tea Party.]

In the foreign policy world, it’s often said politics stops at the water’s edge.

We’ve reached the water’s edge.

  • Check out editorial cartoons about President Obama.
  • Slide Show: 6 Consequences if the Debt Ceiling Isn't Raised
  • Slide Show: 6 Ways to Raise the Debt Ceiling