BREAKDOWN

HOW THE BUDGET TALKS FELL APART THE TWO SIDES AGREE: THEY ALL WANT A BUDGET DEAL; THE COUNTRY NEEDS A DEAL. AND IN PRIVATE, THEY DOUBT THERE WILL EVER BE A DEAL

SOMETIMES THE TURNING POINT in a war comes not from a battlefield victory but from a private surrender of faith. It happens when leaders discover that they care less about what they hope to win than about what they stand to lose. And so last week, as a blizzard shut down the government they had just reopened, President Clinton and the Republican leaders of Congress were still saying that it was in America's interest to reach a budget deal, that they weren't very far apart, that they had everything to gain by making peace and much to lose by fighting on,...

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