Congressional Republicans, who had previously sought to use the fast-approaching federal debt ceiling as a budget bargaining chip, have now agreed to extend the borrowing authority. Financial markets were pleased the United States would continue making bond payments.
I have a different take: I think the whole concept of a federal “debt ceiling” is pointless. Yes, the national debt is too high and the government spends too much. The debt ceiling debate isn’t solving either problem.
Why is the government’s debt reaching the limit the same government previously set for itself? The answer: Congress authorized more spending than its own tax policies could generate in revenue. The national debt therefore rose, as naturally as night follows day. This isn’t rocket science. It is simple math.
Fact: all government spending is a result of decisions made by Congress, in cooperation with the president. Another fact: all government revenues are a result of decisions made by Congress, in cooperation with the president.
Everyone in both parties was fully aware they were creating more debt when they made those decisions. If that isn’t what they wanted, they could have raised taxes, cut spending or found some other way to balance the books. They didn’t. So here we are.
In other words, the Democrats and Republicans already agreed to raise the debt ceiling when they passed tax and spending policies guaranteed to create more debt. To now pretend otherwise is simply wrong.
That’s why this whole debt ceiling drama is stupid and unnecessary. If Democrats think taxes should be high enough to avoid more debt, they can offer legislation to do it. If Republicans think spending should be low enough to avoid more debt, they can offer legislation to do it. And then they can all compromise somewhere in between. That’s how it should work.
Instead, we are treated to meaningless argument about a decision that, for all practical purposes, has already been irreversibly made. It was made, in large part, by the very same people who are now whining about a result they knew would follow.
We have serious problems to address. This faux “debt ceiling” crisis accomplishes nothing. It obviously hasn’t stopped the government from spending insane amounts of borrowed money. The doubt it creates about Treasury bonds creates needless market volatility.
So what, exactly, is the point?
Answer: to delay and distract the public so we keep re-electing the people who created the whole problem. In that regard, it seems to be working all too well.
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