U.S. politicians are in the thick of a debate that is fascinating, urgent, passionate, stubborn and potentially highly dangerous both for the American economy and for the country’s political reputation and standing in the world.

It is a tragic measure of the purblind failure of leaders of both parties — I am tempted to say all parties because there are so many squabbling factions — that they are playing a game of chicken just when there are so many doubts about the recovery and whether the U.S. can any longer be trusted as a global leader.

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