At the same time, none of the parties can afford to alienate their own constituencies by bending too much to the other side.
In other words, Republicans would anger their constituents by allowing unpopular tax hikes; Democrats don’t want to be held responsible for cuts to cherished social programs such as Medicare and Social Security.
But both sides also fear getting blamed if the markets crater.
Can Obama, Boehner and Reid — along with secondary party leaders in both chambers — fashion an agreement that suits all their needs?
If those who say the national and world economies depend on a debt-limit increase are right, they don’t have a choice.