Our Opinion: 'Magic' act or 'clown show' in Washington

Any euphoria — or at least satisfaction — about averting default has been short-lived.

President Obama’s signature Tuesday on legislation to raise our nation’s debt ceiling beat the default deadline, but prompted scant celebration.

Reaction has been quite the contrary; discontent reigns.

Before he even signed the agreement, Obama — who has been roundly criticized by fellow Democrats for abandoning tax hikes in negotiating with the GOP — already was renewing his call for increased taxation.

“We can’t balance the budget on the backs of people who have borne the biggest brunt of this recession,” Obama said Tuesday. “Everyone is going to have to chip in. It’s only fair.”

Wall Street shrugged off the agreement and reacted to a new report of economic weakness.

The Dow Jones Industrials fell more than 265 points Tuesday, the worst day in more than two months, and closed below 12,000 for the first time since June 24.

And, despite the agreement, squabbling and haranguing among members of Congress failed to win friends among the American people.

A poll released Monday by the Pew Research Center found 72 percent of respondents characterizing the negotiations in negative terms — including “ridiculous,” “disgusting” and “stupid.” A mere 2 percent had a positive reaction and 11 percent were neutral.

One respondent referred to the “clown show in Washington.”

Another referenced the axiom “all politics is local” — coined by former House Speaker Tip O’Neill — when he complained: “I don’t care about their political infighting, about who gets the upper hand at the end of the day. I just want my aunt (who relies on Social Security) taken care of.”

Yet another respondent observed lawmakers had done nothing to advance their chances of re-election. “It’s ridiculous,” he said. “There’s not an individual in the House of Representatives or Senate that needs to be there anymore.”

During congressional negotiations, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid offered a reassurance that “magic things can happen here in Congress in a very short period of time.”

The president and Congress may have worked their “magic” to avoid default, but they didn’t impress the American people. And they didn’t fool the people, either.

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