"I hate the fact that I now know what a 'clean C.R.' means. It's the kind of inside-the-Beltway term that the country only learns about when there is some big crisis in Washington, as there is now. A government that functioned would fight over the budget but would ultimately pass a budget," Joe Nocera writes in the New York Times.
"For much of the rest of the world, America's actions seem bafflingly illogical and self-harming. The reality, however, is that the Republican congressmen who have pushed this over the brink are not (by and large), crazy. It is just that their political incentives are now stacked towards confrontation with President Obama," Gideon Rachman writes in the Financial Times.
"There's nothing wrong with continuing to resist Obamacare even though it has been on the books for three years. What would be strange is if Republicans ended their opposition to it. The law was, after all, passed over almost-unanimous Republican objections. Other large government programs haven't seen as sustained a campaign against them, but they had more bipartisan support at the outset," writes Ramesh Ponnuru in Bloomberg.
Japan to Hike Sales Tax in April
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Japan will raise its sales tax from 5 percent to 8 percent in April, and will outline a stimulus package that will offset the impact of the higher tax rate (JapanTimes). The stimulus is expected to include corporate tax breaks and infrastructure spending.
CFR President Richard Haass explains the challenges of Iran's nuclear diplomacy in this op-ed.
Sudan's Opposition Parties Join Protests
The leaders of Sudan's two main opposition parties, National Umma and Popular Congress, have called on their followers to join the protests against the removal of fuel subsidies that have morphed into a more general call for political and economic reforms (SudanTribune).
Norway's Conservative party, which finished second in the September parliamentary elections, is forming a right-wing minority government that will include the anti-immigration Progress party, which came in third in the elections (AP).