One of many dangers in all-or-nothing politics is that brinksmanship with the national economy might start to feel routine. Repetition can have that effect.
Much of the US government went idle after Congress on Sept. 30 refused to authorize spending in a bill that, at the insistence of a faction of House Republicans, withheld funds for the Affordable Care Act.
The last time the government closed because of congressional stalemate was late 1995. In August 2011, Congress almost let the Treasury Department run out of cash in a dispute over the debt ceiling.
A repeat of that showdown looms. Treasury reached its debt limit of $16.7 trillion in May and has been relying on so-called extraordinar...