Conn Carroll points out that the fight over the debt ceiling is one that the Democrats chose: "The Democrats decision not to raise the debt limit when they still controlled both houses of Congress was a calculated political gamble. They wanted to use the debt limit vote to separate newly-elected Republicans from their Tea Party base."
Harry Reid told Talking Points Memo at the time:
I think it may be better to do the debt ceiling, raise it next year rather than now. … I want the Republicans to have some buy-in on the debt. They’re going to have a majority in the House. I think they should have some kind of a buy-in on the debt. I don’t think it should be when we have a heavily Democratic Senate, a heavily Democratic House and a Democratic president.
In other words, the Democrats' goal was to break the Republican party with a debt limit vote. Reid and Obama continue to pursue this goal by trying to make the Republican party authorize more than $400 billion in tax hikes--as if no one remembers what happened the last time Republicans broke a promise to not raise taxes.