Congress might reach a last-minute deal to avert a federal default and fully reopen the government. But elected officials are likely to return to the same sort of grinding brinkmanship next year.
House-Senate talks are barely touching the underlying causes of debt-and-spending stalemates that pushed the country close to economic crises in 2011, again last December and again this month.
At best, Congress and the White House will agree to fund the government and raise the limit on federal borrowing for a few months.
They also will set up another bipartisan effort to address the major causes of the federal debt. Those include restricted revenue growth and entitlement benefits that rise automatically.
But advocates see no change in the political dynamics that stymied past bids for big compromises.
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