Still, there remains no question which way America and Europe are going -- indeed, are being forced to go by the irresponsibility of a generation of political leaders. Consider.
Obama has moved in months from an expansive budget that could not get a single vote in the Senate to negotiating with a Republican House whose leaders' feet are being held to the fire by Tea Party true believers.
When the discussion is of $3 trillion in budget cuts and reducing tax rates, in return for giving up tax loopholes, Big Government is in retreat and a conservative hour may be at hand.
In Albany, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, son of liberal lion Mario, has just gotten an agreement from state employees to give up increases in pay raises and pension hikes they had already won, to save union jobs.
In Minnesota, Gov. Mark Dayton, a Democrat who shut down the government to force the GOP to agree to tax increases, has raised a white flag and accepted the Republican "no new taxes" position.
"Trust but verify" was Reagan's watchword in negotiating arms control with the Soviet Union. The principle should surely apply to any deal that Boehner cuts.
We are 10 days from the day of reckoning. On Aug. 2, the U.S. Government, as of now, will have no legal authority to borrow, and tax revenue will fall sharply below what the U.S. Government needs to meet its obligations.
To avoid a partial shutdown of the government and a rattling of the stock and bond markets, for which the GOP will be blamed, the House should agree to a short-term extension of the debt ceiling.
And for every month increase in that debt ceiling, the House should impose a cost of $110 billion in hard budget cuts.
As we have seen from Obama's repeated retreats, he needs an increase in the debt ceiling now, as does the country. He will have to accept any increase the House gives him, or veto it and risk a plunge in the markets, which would assume either a U.S. debt default or a U.S. debt downgrade.
This tournament is not over, but it was Tea Party hardball that got the GOP to the finals.
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