Back from the brink

Barack Obama had a triumphant smile as he won a hard-earned deal from a highly partisan Congress.

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Published: Fri 18 Oct 2013, 9:05 PM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 10:49 AM

As the United States returned from the brink by avoiding an imminent default, there was a sense of relief for more than a million federal employees who were keeping their fingers crossed for almost three weeks. The fact that they will go back to work signifies social euphoria for Americans, who of late have found themselves entangled in politics at the cost of their economic survival. The deal in Congress has helped international markets bounce back despite the massive internal cost. Leading rating agency Standard & Poor’s has issued an estimate, saying the standoff in Washington has shaved $24 billion from the American economy and reduced the assessed growth rate from 3 per cent to around 2.

The Congress deal, however, is no long-term solution to the problems pestering the US economy with its fudging of budgetary figures. Though it extended the treasury’s borrowing authority until February 7, it is bound to hit a snag again as the Republicans are unlikely to yield any more mileage to the Democrats and the White House as far as Obamacare funding is concerned.

Notwithstanding President Obama’s attempt to win back the trust of the nation, the politics on Capitol Hill in the months to come will be highly competitive and lawmakers from both sides of the divide and the newly emerging so-called liberals will stick to point-scoring.

The question is, why do a few billion dollars’ spending on social welfare and healthcare matter so much, and that too for a staggering economy like the US? The answer lies in the politics of connivance. Since the emergence of the Tea Party and radicals, issues of economy and social welfare have become highly politicised. That is why several states under Republican governors have voted against Obamacare and refused to implement its privileges in their jurisdictions.

Whether this animosity over an issue of public importance turns into a manifesto in times to come will go on to determine the House elections in 2014. In other words, the Congress is heading towards a partisan approach and there won’t be any more issues of convergence if the economy on social mobilisation is controlled so vehemently.

It remains to be seen whether the House and the Senate reconcile their differences on issues of foreign and defence policies, or let them sail alone on the watered-down economy. Obama, who has led from the front in clinching an unconditional compromise, will have to settle this row once and for all in an amicable manner.

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