Debt Ceiling and The Cult of Compromise

News of US bipartisan wrangling over the raising of the US debt ceiling has taken over the headlines recently.

You can find out more about the issue with this helpful interactive feature from Associated Press. The tab that analyses the problem by looking at the cash crunch, spending priorities, economic impact and a timeline of events so far is especially helpful.

Of course there is also the BBC Q&A page on the issue that summarizes the general line of conflict along party lines:

The chief sticking points have been Republicans’ resistance to tax rises and calls for much bigger spending cuts than the Democrats favour, and Democrats’ desire to shield healthcare programmes for the poor and elderly and the Social Security pension programme from cuts.

Finally, a number of House Republicans – mainly newly elected staunch Tea Party fiscal conservatives – oppose raising the debt limit in any form.

Amid the debate, Paul Krugman of the New York Times laments on the ‘Centrist Cop-Out‘, identifying the stubborn attempts to find a middle ground detrimental to progress. More specifically, he identifies Republican extremism and Obama’s desire for constant concessions as ultimately leading to a dysfunctional government. On the other hand, Caroline Baum from Bloomberg has accused Obama and the democrats of “playing politics with the debt ceiling” by playing up fears of a default when the US government technically can still finance its interest payments into the months ahead.

After seeing the healthcare reform and debt ceiling crises in the US, what are your current thoughts on a two-party system? Are such cases enough to argue that increased political rivalry will not work in Singapore? 


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