The GOP's Destructive Game of Chicken

Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson says that congressional Republicans are focused on brinkmanship that is at best pointless and at worst destructive.

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House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Speaker of the House John Boehner (Alex Wong/Getty Images News)

Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson says that congressional Republicans are focused on brinkmanship that is at best pointless and at worst destructive.

President Obama is set to begin his second term at a moment when the question is not what great things our nation can achieve but whether our government, in Obama's words, can "stop lurching from crisis to crisis to crisis."

The jury is out, but continued dysfunction seems the most likely scenario. Obama's news conference Monday -- his last scheduled encounter with White House reporters before Inauguration Day -- was a tutorial in low expectations.

Obama devoted his opening remarks to the latest unnecessary crisis: the threat by Republicans in Congress to refuse to raise the federal debt ceiling. Such action, or inaction, would be “a self-inflicted wound on the economy,” Obama said.

That's an understatement. Failing to raise the debt ceiling would in fact be a catastrophe, putting the faith and credit of the U.S. government in doubt and destabilizing a global financial system in which the dollar is the benchmark currency.

Congress has a long history of playing politics with the debt ceiling -- even Obama once voted against an increase when he was a senator -- but there was always the understanding that in the end, the needed increase would be approved. It was unthinkable that the country would default on its obligations.

Read Eugene Robinson's entire piece at the Washington Post.

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