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It never ends: America’s ideological combat over its debts. The battlefield is the stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol building to the White House, along which limos race back and forth in these increasingly ritualised fights.

In April it was a battle royal over the delayed federal budget. This almost led to the government shutting down before President Obama and Republican John Boehner, the House Speaker, agreed to $38.5bn in spending cuts. In May, the fight will be over raising the national debt ceiling, which is currently $14.3 trillion. Sometime in the autumn, when the budget for 2012 is…

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