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US now faces two debt ceiling deadlines: Asian financial markets and possible default

As the clock ticks toward government default, House Speaker John Boehner says he’ll have a plan by the end of the day Sunday. Asian financial markets and Wall Street are watching closely.

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Skepticism is called for. We’ve seen that movie before – more than once – and we know how it turns out.

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Plan B in fact looks more like Plan A now on Capitol Hill: A two-stage debt limit vote that avoids default for now but leaves major deficit reduction and debt ceiling questions until later.

Timing is a major consideration.

“The only bottom line that I have is that we have to extend this debt ceiling through the next election, into 2013,” President Obama said Friday. For their part, Republicans have no inclination to take the debt ceiling out of 2012 election campaigning – especially since they see the possibility of increasing their seats in House and Senate and perhaps even unseating a weakened president.

Or as Boehner put it Sunday: “I know the president's worried about the next elections. But my God, shouldn't we be worried about the country?”

There’s been blatant partisanship on both sides, of course. Shortly before last year’s elections, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell declared that his top priority – presumably above jobs or anything else – was to defeat Obama in 2012.

Where’s the American public in all of this? “A plague on both your houses,” it seems.

Writes political numbers cruncher Nate Silver in the New York Times:

“A new CNN poll finds that 55 percent of voters have a negative view of the Republican Party, tied for their second-highest unfavorable score since CNN began asking this question in 1992…. The news for Democrats is not any better. Some 49 percent of voters now hold a negative view of the party … The combined unfavorable score for both parties – 104 percent – is also a record, and represents the first time that the figure has been above 100.”

What does this portend?

“A credible independent bid for the presidency is always a long-shot, but might be more viable under these conditions,” writes Silver. “Or we may simply see a genuine anti-incumbent wave – a much-discussed phenomenon that has rarely occurred in practice – with significant numbers of elected officials in both parties losing office. It is not out of the question that Democrats could lose the White House but take back control of the House of Representatives.”

In other words, it’s a wild and wooly time in Washington.


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