Republicans and Democrats inveigh against each others' competing debt limit bills with about equal intensity. Harry Reid's bill is filled with gimmicks and phantom cuts, Republicans claim. John Boehner's doesn't get the job done deficit-wise, Democrats counter, and will likely result in a U.S. credit rating downgrade anyhow.
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Members of both parties have threatened, implicitly and explicitly, that they'd rather not raise the debt limit -- that they'd rather risk the consequences of a debt default -- than allow the other's plan to pass unamended.
The irony in all this is that while both complaints are pretty fair, the plans themselves are so similar that under normal circumstances merging them into one bill would be easy. And yet, with the country's borrowing authority set to expire in less than a week, that isn't happening -- at least not until House Republicans choreograph one more symbolic vote, and heighten the Congress', the market's, and the country's growing sense of urgency.