Tjololo Photo via Flickr CC
Tjololo Photo via Flickr CC

Don't play the game of chicken on a bridge; especially when you are facing down a freight train fully loaded with iron ore.

That is the conclusion to be drawn from the Congressional "time out" called in the game of brinkmanship over the U.S. debt ceiling. (It is premature to say that the deal struck yesterday "resolves" the issue, as it provides only a temporary respite from the drama.) Yet, Congressional Republicans who thought that they could extract cuts to Obamacare found themselves in that situation.

In hindsight, it seems clear that the White House strategists gamed out the consequences of agreeing to even a small concession on Obamacare (tantamount to an invitation to further demands and threats of brinkmanship) and determined that the weight of public opinion would back them. At the same time, they wisely provided an exit ramp for the Republicans — something that allowed both sides to claim that there was give and take. Perhaps I am too Panglossian, but one way of interpreting these developments is to say that the people have spoken.

Attention now turns to the House-Senate conference to resolve the underlying problems. The outcome of that process will determine yesterday's deal was true peace in our time or merely a lull in the game of brinkmanship.

The opinions expressed in this article/multimedia are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of CIGI or its Board of Directors.
  • James A. Haley is a senior fellow at CIGI and a Canada Institute global fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars in Washington, DC.