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How it became Boehner's Dilemma

Business Times - 15 Jul 2011


How it became Boehner's Dilemma

Making a deal on the US debt ceiling is easier said than done as both parties play a game of political one-upmanship

By LEON HADAR
WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT

ANYONE who has taken an introductory course in one of the social sciences is probably familiar with one of the major problems in the field of game theory: the so-called prisoner's dilemma.

It explains why two individuals (say, two suspects arrested by the police, who have insufficient evidence to convict either of them) tend to refrain from cooperating (by not betraying each other to the police) even if it is in their best interests to do so (since they will go free).

Welcome to Washington's 2011 Great American Debt Limit Negotiations!

Indeed, not unlike the two players in the game of the prisoner's dilemma, President Barack Obama and the leader of the Republican opposition in Congress, House Speaker John Boehner from Oklahoma, would be better off cooperating and…