On to the Next Crisis: Why Congress Learned Nothing From the Shutdown

Swampland

The governing crises that ended on Wednesday night depressed consumer confidence and drove the Republican Party’s ratings to all-time lows. Yet after 16 long, depressing days, one corner of the U.S. Capitol was brimming with hope as the standoff sputtered to a close.

“I hope we have learned not to do this,” said Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona. “I hope we have learned our lesson.” Across the ornate hallway outside the Senate chamber, his colleague Johnny Isakson, the junior Senator from Georgia, made a similar attempt to frame the episode as a teachable moment. “The long-term impact,” he says, “is this will probably never happen again.”

Don’t bet on it. It may be a while before the GOP again shutters the government in a flight of fantasy or drags the U.S. this close to economic calamity. But the political dynamics that produced the debacle suggest the dysfunction is here to stay…

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