In summer 2011, as the debt ceiling loomed, Barack Obama saw his predicament in Solomonic terms. He was the president, charged with safeguarding the national economy. Republicans threatening default therefore had the leverage. They might have been prepared to split the baby. Obama was not willing to — like the true mother, he couldn’t — let that happen.
“There’s no doubt that the challenge we had here was ultimately I and (Treasury Secretary) Tim Geithner were responsible for averting another financial meltdown,” Obama later told Bob Woodward. “And so my interest in not playing chicken, or seeing any miscalculation here that leads to a default, was profound.”
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