Washington's incompetence is perplexing, given America's aspiration, in every other endeavor, to be innovative and best in its class. Yet when it comes to politics, the U.S. historically cannot deliver decisiveness, transparency, accountability, or alignment with the public interest.
Regardless of how the current debt ceiling circus act plays out, don't be surprised to see what happens to Uncle Sam's credit rating as potential lenders to a government living well beyond its means start figuring all of this out.
If the Congress and the president don't agree on a budget, expense reductions and revenue increases for the next 10 years before the new year, they will have violated their fundamental duty, and they and their parties should be punished at the polls.
Think of what would happen if you lived in one of the 58 developing countries that remain unrated by Standard & Poor's, Moody's and Fitch. You would have very limited access to capital and investment, and the cost of borrowing would be significantly higher.
Standard & Poor's demonstrated its loss of confidence in the ability of Washington to get its financial house in order by downgrading the U.S.'s bond rating. Much the same scenario has been playing out in the U.S.'s approach to Israeli-Palestinian peace.
The global economy is weak and still weakening, while policymakers seem unable or unwilling to marshal a reassuring response. From the United States to Europe to Japan, economies are stagnating, and governments are tightening the straits by cutting back on spending.