Because of Tea Party intransigence and threats against their own leader John Boehner, the speaker had to reject Obama's "grand bargain," the "big deal" of $3 trillion in budget cuts for $1 trillion in "revenue enhancement."
These crazed ideologues, the Tea Partiers, we are told by the talking heads, just do not understand that governing is about compromise.
And that is the mindset of a city that relishes nothing more than those "Kumbaya" moments when Democrats and Republicans break ranks and appear grinning together at a joint press conference to announce a "big deal" to do what is best for America.
Decade after decade, the play is re-enacted.
But the Tea Party folks were elected to close the play. As Ronald Reagan said, "We were sent here to drain the swamp, not to get along with the alligators."
And what have the big deals done for America?
Reagan was persuaded to sign on to a bipartisan big deal to cut spending three dollars for every dollar he accepted in new taxes. And the Gipper forever believed he had been lied to, as he got three dollars in tax hikes for every dollar in spending cuts.
Obama's offer to Boehner is the same one Reagan signed on to.
George H.W. Bush agreed to break his pledge of "no new taxes," and raised the top rate from Reagan's 28 percent to 35 percent.
How did that work out?
A recession ensued that probably cost Bush his presidency.
The biggest of big deals came when the GOP establishment arrived in Bill Clinton's East Room to endorse NAFTA, GATT and a World Trade Organization that stripped America of her right to make and enforce her own trade laws.
Economic patriots fought the surrender of sovereignty and were dismissed as protectionists.
How did NAFTA, GATT and the WTO work out?
Since 1992, the United States has run a total of $7 trillion in trade deficits. Six million manufacturing jobs disappeared in the last decade, along with 50,000 factories. This year's trade deficit just returned to an annual rate of $600 billion.
China is now the world's leading manufacturing power. And what are Republicans doing? Demanding new free-trade deals with Panama, Colombia and South Korea.
Anyone heard any Republican candidate advance a credible plan to reindustrialize America and leave China in the dust?
Anyone heard a Republican candidate call for America to give the WTO six months' notice and get out, so we can go about rebuilding our country rather than babbling on about some New World Order? The biggest dealmaker of them all was George W. Bush.
Before he launched the war on Iraq, he got Democratic Sens. Tom Daschle, Harry Reid, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, John Edwards and Chris Dodd to give him a blank check. As the Republican Establishment signed on to Clinton's trade deals, the Democratic Establishment signed on to Bush's war.
Dissenters were denounced, once again, as isolationists.
How did that big deal turn out?
It cost us 4,400 dead, 35,000 wounded and $1 trillion, with 100,000 Iraqi dead and half a million widows and orphans. Four million Iraqis have been uprooted from their homes, half fleeing to foreign lands. Half of these exiles are Christians whose communities, there since the time of Christ, are dying, as Islamists assume they are allies of the Crusaders that attacked their country.
And those weapons of mass destruction that the Democratic leadership authorized Bush to find and destroy? They did not exist.
Then there was the George Bush-Teddy Kennedy No Child Left Behind deal, which doubled spending at the Department of Education.
How did that work out?
Hundreds of billions sunk, test scores stagnant or dropping and teachers caught cheating on behalf of students to get test scores back up to keep the NCLB money flowing.
The racial gap endures, and though we spend more per capita on education than any nation save Luxembourg, we are getting creamed in international competition by East Asians and Europeans.
The response to this disaster?
"We need bipartisan agreement to invest more in education."
Did not Albert Einstein define insanity as doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result? Why would we give more money to an education establishment that has consumed the wealth of an empire and failed us for 40 years?
Bipartisan big deals gave us Vietnam, Iraq, the Reagan and Bush 1 tax hikes, NAFTA, GATT, the WTO, No Child Left Behind and prescription drug benefits under Medicare. Bipartisan big deals led America to the brink of bankruptcy.
When JFK wrote "Profiles in Courage," it was not about the dealmakers like LBJ, but the men who stood apart and stood alone for what was right.