The September jobs report gave us evidence this week that the U.S. economy was losing steam even before the government shutdown and debt limit crisis.
Now Washington appears to be doing its very best to make things even worse with immigration reform seemingly dead for the year, corporate tax reform not likely to happen and another budget battle set for early next year.
Your DCMI columnist this week sat on stage at Goldman Sachs with the firm's president, Gary Cohn, quizzing him on the state of the U.S. and global economy and what if anything Washington could do to make things better.
Cohn's answer: Remove the constant threat of fiscal crisis and maybe get something done on immigration, taxes or long-term entitlement reform to deal with structural debt. We don't need all those things, Cohn said. Just one or two to bump up investor and CEO confidence.
"We need to go from pure paranoia to just scared. Just scared would be a big improvement," Cohn told me.
(Read more: How long will fiscal crisis drag on the economy?)
As DCMI has written before, the chances of another shutdown and debt limit crisis next year are fairly low given how bad the last fiasco burned Republicans. But the chances are not zero.
And even if we avoid a total crisis, there is only a limited chance that negotiators will be able to do anything but come up with another short-term spending plan that does nothing to change the blunt sequester spending cuts that the Congressional Budget Office says will cut 2013 GDP growth by 1.5 percent.
Even many staunch deficit hawks would rather change the sequester to include more long-term entitlement changes but the GOP's new hardline on budget talks is keeping discretionary spending for 2014 at $967 billion, a number well below what Democrats will agree to. How that gets resolved is unclear to everyone at this point.