A few moments ago, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner released a letter to congressional leaders explaining the extraordinary measures he'll take to keep the United States from defaulting on its debt. Even amid the world-shaking news of Osama bin Laden's death, the work of government goes on. The fast-approaching May 16th debt limit, and the need to raise it to avoid economic calamity, are a prime illustration of this--the problem is impervious to SEAL Team 6 heroics and trending Twitter topics, even if the rest of us are not.
Until the president's announcement last night, the issue that was going to consume Washington this week was how Congress, just back from its spring break, was going to manage to strike a deal to avert disaster. That clock is still ticking, even if most congressmen spent today releasing statements on bin Laden's death and appearing on cable television. So in one sense, nothing has changed. But in another sense, of course, everything has changed, because it's impossible that such a momentous event could fail to have an effect on Washington. I spent much of the day talking with Democrats and Republicans about what that effect might be.
For now, I'll leave aside the big-picture speculation about how much Obama's success will influence his reelection chances, except to say that I instinctively agree with those who argue "less than you might think." What I was trying to get a sense of today was what effect bin Laden's death would have on Congress right now--and since there is one issue blotting out all others at the moment, what my question really boiled down to was, What effect will bin Laden's death have on the debt-ceiling fight?