The Loss of U.S. Pre-eminence

… Today’s optimists are those who think the current partial government shutdown will allow the Republican Party to work out some internal issues — and actually make a showdown over the debt less likely. Perhaps the political base will be satisfied by a demonstration of dissatisfaction against carrying out the Affordable Care Act, or perhaps their elected representatives will heed what opinion polls show them. …

I’m more pessimistic. The United States won its global predominance in a short period, but based on a long haul of industrial development, productivity gain and fiscal prudence. Now the groundwork has been laid for its decline with political polarization, a longstanding tax revolt and a well-orchestrated campaign to undermine the legitimacy of the federal government. …

If the business elite cannot speak truth to the Republican Party — and persuade its leadership and enough members of Congress to return to a more moderate stand — there is not much hope for the United States in today’s global economy. [cont.]

Simon Johnson (M.I.T.), New York Times