WASHINGTON — The level of cynicism driving the politics of the Republican party could harden the heart and petrify the hopes of even the most optimistic observer. For the latest evidence, just look at the current debate over raising the U.S. debt ceiling.

When House Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke in the hall of the Capitol building Wednesday morning, her words were as uncontroversial as they were urgent. “We have a responsibility to uphold the full faith and credit of the U.S. government,” she said. “It has to get done.”

Her political opponents don’t argue with that. Here was Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell last week: “America must never default. We never have and we never will,” McConnell said. “The debt ceiling will be raised, as it always should be.”

There is no policy debate on this. Failing to raise the limit would catastrophically tank the U.S. economy. A recent study by Moody’s analytics estimates a…

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