Why is the most powerful nation on earth powerless to resolve its debt crisis?

“The crisis is ostensibly about raising America’s debt ceiling from its present $14.3 trillion (£8.7tn). But in reality the crisis is not about the ceiling but a consequence of the polarisation of US politics that began under George W Bush and hardened with the arrival of Barack Obama in the White House and the birth a few months later of the Tea Party movement.

Larry Sabato, a professor of politics at the University of Virginia, said: “This is a very unusual place in American history. No one in my field can remember circumstances like this. You have people in Congress who will not sit down and compromise. Compromise is a dirty word. But representative government is impossible without compromise. The Republicans and Democrats are voting as separate units, which they have rarely done in the US.”

The crisis is being driven by a hardcore of about 20 House members affiliated to the Tea Party. They are prepared to put at risk the US’s faltering economic recovery – and economies around the world – to push the Tea Party ideal of small government, in particular cutting federal spending. Martin Frost, a former Democratic congressman from Texas, writing on the Politico website, compared the Tea Party to the Taliban in its drive for ideological purity, lack of respect for tradition and unwillingness to compromise.”

An extract from an article in today’s “Observer” newspaper.


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