The country has never been this close to default, and there has never been such a dogged deadlock — and we have nobody to blame but the kind of politicians we are sending to Washington, experts said.
The trend of anti-compromising partisanship that has been growing for two decades has come to a head, in large part because of the disappearance of moderates in both parties, and major pushback from the increasingly powerful Tea Party, said Jamie Chandler, professor of political science at Hunter College.
"Both parties have become more ideologically pure," Chandler said. "There are no mediators in between anymore, no blue-dog Democrats or liberal Republicans to make the deals."
He added that "massive constituent pressure" and negative market reactions may help end the stalemate, and that we may see new dealmakers emerge because the current players have been so unsuccessful for so long.
It may come as a surprise that Congress has regularly raised the ceiling or modified its definition without controversy since the limit became law in 1919.
The partisan rancor on the issue began to grow since 2001, when the government surplus under the Clinton administration evaporated, making the ceiling a hotly debated, divisive political issue.