How badly did the debt fight damage America's image abroad?

Foreign observers were horrified by Washington's bungling of a debt-ceiling hike, and Uncle Sam's reputation may never recover

The Obama Administration
(Image credit: CC BY: The White House)

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, disgusted by Washington's rancorous battle over the debt crisis, says the U.S. is living beyond its means, "like a parasite" on the global economy. Other nations are also gloating. The state-controlled Xinhua newspaper in China, which owns a fortune in U.S. bonds and currency, called Congress's flirtation with default "dangerously irresponsible." Did the fight over the debt ceiling do irreparable harm to America's global economic leadership?

The U.S. is now a laughingstock: "The United States has made a fool of itself," says Philip Bowring at The Jakarta Globe. This fiasco shined a glaring light on America's dysfunctional political system "to the point of seriously damaging the U.S. position in the world." Not only that, but by making bond investors jittery, Washington will drive up the cost of borrowing for everybody. Thanks a lot, America.

"A global laughingstock, U.S. politicking could hurt us all"

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And Congress' last-minute deal failed to undo the damage: This ugly fight was like a "scary movie," says China's Global Times in an editorial, and the ending was nothing to cheer about. The 11th-hour agreement merely allowed a country mired in debt to borrow another $2.4 trillion. All that does is send the U.S. "sinking further into quicksand," and every country that holds U.S. debt will suffer if the bottom falls out of America's economy. Sadly, there's no longer any point in trying "to talk sense into the U.S."

"U.S. debt deal merely delays pain for all"

Blame the Tea Party for making Uncle Sam look bad: Everyone's glad "the prospect of financial Armageddon appears to have been averted," says Britain's Independent in an editorial. But the debt ceiling — a "nonsensical legal cap" on Washington's ability to borrow money — is still in place. "And as long as a generation of Republican politicians feel entitled to hold a gun to the head of the credit of America to secure their political ends — disaster will never be far away."

"Disaster postponed"

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