Few winners from Washington’s debt meltdown

Few winners from Washington’s debt meltdown

WASHINGTON - Almost no one will limp off the scorched earth of Washington's latest political debacle boasting of a clear win.

Instead, the aftermath of a debt default near miss and 16-day government shutdown is turning into a game of "Who is the biggest loser?"

Republicans trashed their own political brand, President Barack Obama saw his approval ratings sink, and America flirted with squandering its reputation as the world's financial safe haven.

"There are no winners here," said White House spokesman Jay Carney. For once, the spin reflected political reality.

Politicians, rarely popular, emerged from the crisis with their pariah status enhanced. America's national mood, drained of quintessential optimism by a decade of war and recession, darkened a little more.

"An anti-incumbent feeling... has only strengthened," said Lara Brown of the Graduate School of Political Management at The George Washington University.

"There is a desire, pretty much, to throw out all of the Washington establishment."

A Gallup poll last week put Congress's approval rating at 11 per cent and a Pew Research survey found 81 per cent of Americans dissatisfied with their country's direction.

The Republican Party, yet to fix its habit of alienating young, women and minority voters which cost it last year's presidential election took the most stinging blow.

Bristling with bravado, House Republicans picked the shutdown and debt ceiling fight as a way to force the president to defund or delay his health law, so-called Obamacare.

They failed on both counts and Obama stood firm on not being held to "ransom" on raising borrowing authority so America could pay its bills.

In the process, Republicans tore internal divisions even wider.

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