It boils down to this, as Greg Sargent shows: Republicans were willing to let the country go into default, and Democrats weren’t.
Again and again, Dems drew lines in the sand that they promptly erased as the threat of default grew. A clean debt ceiling hike? Dropped. Cuts to Medicare benefits?…The insistence on revenue hikes? Withdrawn.
What make this all the more remarkable is that throughout this process, Republicans themselves conceded not just that a debt ceiling hike would be disastrous for America, but also that it was inevitable. Yet they were still able use the threat of default as leverage. How?
The simple answer: Dems weren’t prepared to allow default — no matter what. Republicans, by contrast, treated the debt ceiling hike as a necessity, but one that had to happen on their terms. In a remarkable act of political cynicism, they recast the debt ceiling hike itself as a GOP concession — even though they had already agreed it had to happen to avert an epic national crisis. And Dems made this possible by accepting the dynamics of the situation as Republicans defined it.