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Editorial: This was expensive deal for nation

A last-minute deal is, in the eyes of many Americans, better than no deal at all — especially given how Congress is going about its business these days.

What the Senate was able to produce to avert the debt ceiling crisis, and reopen government, unfortunately only calms the governmental waters for a time. The agreement would extend the budget through Jan. 15 and would lift the $16.7 trillion debt limit until Feb. 7. In other words, in the overused phrase of the time, it just kicks this particular can down the road.

Sadly, it also sets the stage for more acrimony and repeat performances next year.

For the moment, however, the country gets a small break.

“After weeks spent facing off across a partisan divide that often seemed too wide to cross, our country came to the brink of a disaster. But in the end, political adversaries set aside their differences and disagreements,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada. “What we’ve done is send a message to Americans ... and in addition to that, to the citizens of every country in the world, that the United States lives up to its obligations.”

Well, maybe.

Standard & Poor’s experts say the debate and delay hurt the United States economy, to the tune of $24 billion. They also estimated the impact on the gross domestic product will shave 0.6 percent from growth in the fourth quarter.

The economic impact on the nation was far-ranging in scope. From businesses that had to wait on import inspections to residential real estate whose deals were slowed because government-backed mortgages were delayed to farmers who could not price their crop because of the lack of nationwide date, the shutdown could be felt across the nation.

And we have to count, too, the furloughed 450,000 federal workers who had to use their savings or run up additional credit-card debt because there were bills to pay when they were out of work.

Regardless of where members of Congress fell on the entire situation, we’d hope they are seeing the detrimental results this fight had on our nation. And that should be at the forefront of their thinking in the next couple of months, because the U.S. is far from out of the woods.

“The U.S. economy dodged a bullet today. But the reprieve will be short,” said Paul Edelstein, director of financial economics at IHS Global Insight, in a Washington Post story. “Democrats and Republicans remain far apart on fiscal policy and the stage is set for another showdown in January.”

Let us all keep our fingers crossed that there’s at least some hesitation about putting the country through this financial wringer again.

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