Congress and the White House have become adroit at ignoring the desires of voters to resolve the issue of the government debt and sending home roughly 800,000 workers. So why should the two buckle to pleas from foreign owners of U.S. debt? The answer is they won't.
Virtually every poll taken that asks Americans about the government shutdown and issues regarding the debt ceiling finds that more people blame the Republicans than the president. However, the president's advantage is relative. A new Zogby poll shows the approval rating of Congress has dropped to only 13%, with Democrat members doing slightly better than that. The president's approval rating is 45%. At that level, the administration's bragging rights are hollow.
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Within the past several days, the International Monetary Funds (IMF) has called on Washington to take "urgent action." World Bank President Jim Yong Kim has said about the same. One of the most powerful policy makers in Europe, Mario Draghi, head of the European Central Bank (ECB), said that he finds it impossible to believe that the United States would default. China, the largest holder of U.S. paper, warned Washington about settling the debt ceiling matter. Of course, its "balance sheet" would be as badly damaged as that of any other country if the United States defaulted.
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The begging of foreign interests has done nothing other than provide more headlines among media that have trouble keeping up with warnings and polls. Congress and the administration remain mired in a swamp and are unwilling to pull themselves out of it, perhaps even until it is too late.
So, why do foreign governments and international financial agencies continue to press Washington for a solution this week, before a possible default? The only answer to that is they have to maintain the appearance that their opinions matter, when nothing can be further from the truth.