Eliminating the debt-ceiling is a no brainer

Jonathan Weisman: “Mr. Geithner proposed permanently ending Congressional purview over the federal borrowing limit, Republican aides said. He said that Congress could be allowed to pass a resolution blocking an increase in the debt limit, but that the president would be able to veto that resolution. Congress could block a higher borrowing limit only if two-thirds of lawmakers overrode the veto.”

Joe Weisenthal: “the #1 thing that lawmakers could do to improve US fiscal prospects is eliminate the debt ceiling… There’s only one counterargument: The debt ceiling provides a nice opportunity to take stock of the nation’s finances. It’s a good tradition to have in place.”“This is why Tim Geithner’s new proposal is so brilliant… This almost completely prevents a debt ceiling crisis ever again, while keeping the ceremonial aspect that people like. There would still be votes, but they’ll mainly serve as a way to let politicians play politics, without putting anything at risk.”(above: Wonk Wire)

Ezra Klein: “The debt ceiling is an anachronism. It’s an accountability mechanism from the days when Congress didn’t much involve itself in federal budgeting. Today, Congress exerts full control over the federal budget. The debt ceiling isn’t imposing accountability on the executive but calling into question whether Congress will pay the bills it has already chosen to incur.

But it’s not an adorable anachronism, like grandfather clocks. It’s a dangerous one, like bloodletting, lobotomies and burning people you suspect to be a witch. If we crash through the debt ceiling, a global financial crisis could — and likely will — result. Even once we return to sanity and begin paying our bills again, America’s borrowing costs are likely to be permanently higher, and the market’s confidence in our political system is likely to be permanently harmed. The Bipartisan Policy Center estimates that the near-miss we had in 2011 cost us $18.9 billion. That’s $18.9 billion we spent for no reason. It didn’t buy us one service or lower taxes by even a dime.

The “rational argument” for the debt ceiling is that the minority party can use it to extract policy concessions from the majority party, as Republicans did in 2011. In other words, the argument for the debt ceiling is that we should enter the American economy in a never-ending game of Russian roulette because whichever party a majority of Americans didn’t vote for wants to keep its shot at the winnings. That’s not a very good argument.”

Remember when Republicans used to defend raising the debt ceiling? What happened? It’s as if none of these reasons are true today… that, or they’re playing a hypocritical game of politics with our country’s economy…

James Fallows says this is The Chart That Should Accompany All Discussions of the Debt Ceiling (via: JoeWo):

…from New York Times – July/2011. Click for a more detailed view, though it’s pretty clear as is.


It’s based on data from the Congressional Budget Office and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Its significance is not partisan (who’s “to blame” for the deficit) but intellectual. It demonstrates the utter incoherence of being very concerned about a structural federal deficit but ruling out of consideration the policy that was largest single contributor to that deficit, namely the Bush-era tax cuts. Continue reading…

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