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Crisis by design
A statutory debt ceiling disconnected from the regular budget process is just a posturing opportunity for leaders who refuse to govern responsibly within the system they ostensibly lead.
I will attempt to keep this to the point: the debt ceiling deal isn't the problem — a debt ceiling disconnected from the budget is the problem. Our US debt ceiling is not even really one thing — it is a patchwork concept effectively initiated in 1917 as part of the US war effort to fund fighting World War I. It is not built into the Congressional budget process, nor is it legally tied to the commitments made by Congress when they pass spending bills. It has been extended, paused, bundled, sunset, and generally used as blunt instrument and an absurd farce that creates an end-around to the budget process and leads to immature governing that results in false choices, incoherent policies.
Should Congress who pass our laws including our Federal budget and the Executive branch that executes them and spends the approved money be serious about those commitments including being an economically responsibly nation in a global system that relies on the stability of US monetary and fiscal policy to expand financial access, wealth, and power of people all over the world? Yes. Is our system setup to create responsible leadership? Absolutely not. And by building a high-stakes crisis into our governing on irregular, but frequent intervals, we also make it easy for politicians to traffic in the constant sense of existential threat and embrace an always-on tone of hyperbole and hysteria that makes any governing more difficult. If a debt ceiling is important to our national principles, it should be built into the budget process and govern the choices, debates, priorities, and scoring that occur when those commitments are made. If it’s not, we should jettison the farcical crisis by design and force Congress to find other ways to grandstand without leading.
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