There are two critical aspects to the U.S. debt crisis. One is that the confrontation is real and may not be resolved quickly, although the pressure to do so will grow exponentially from here on out. The real blame for all this lies with the deficit-phobic Washington centrists. The best explanation for how we got here is outlined in this blogpost by Jon Chait of The New Republic fittingly titled: The Debt Ceiling Crisis And The Failure Of The Establishment, which, as Chait puts it, underestimated " the loony determination of the Republican right".
The other tragic aspect is that the whole debate is wrong-headed and focused on the wrong problems, the debt and deficit, instead of the right ones, short and long-term unemployment and badly skewed income distribution. A not unreasonable discussion of these can be found in this column by former Obama and Clinton advisor Laura D'Andrea Tyson on the jobs deficit.