Abolish The Debt Ceiling

Dave Johnson

The debt-ceiling law is a mistake. All lifting the debt ceiling does is authorize Congress to borrow the money that is needed to pay the bills that Congress has already mandated be paid. Tomorrow representatives Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Hank Johnson (D-GA), Jim Moran (D-VA), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Keith Ellison (D-MN) and Peter Welch (D-VT) will announce legislation to just eliminate the federal debt ceiling altogether.

The debt limit only exists as a potential hostage. Republicans are currently threatening to let the country go into default on its bills rather than increase our debt limit, demanding cuts in Social Security and Medicare in exchange for not shooting the economy. But under our Constitution it is Congress that authorizes all spending, and orders the president to administer that spending and execute their order. (That’s why it’s called the “administration” and the “executive branch.”) In other words, they are threatening to not pay the bills that they ordered the president to incur.

In my recent post, Don’t Feed The Debt-Ceiling Trolls, I explained the debt limit and what it means if Congress does not authorize increasing it,

The process of raising the debt ceiling is basically a mistake in the law. Raising the debt ceiling authorizes Congress to pay the bills that Congress has already committed to paying. But since the Reagan tax cuts and then the ‘W’ Bush tax cuts the country has not had sufficient revenue to meet the needs of our people without borrowing, so the debt keeps increasing.

What the Republicans are threatening to do is refuse to honor our debts and pay the bills that the United States has already promised to pay. They would default on our bonds – most of which are held by Americans. This would ruin the credit of the country, dramatically increase all future borrowing costs, and forever end America’s status as a “safe haven” place to keep money. It would end our status as the “reserve currency.” It would be a vote to tell the world that the US dollar is not worth the paper it is printed on.

This would crash our economy and take the world’s economy down with it.

That is what they are threatening to do. They are literally threatening to hold their breath until they die because we are afraid we will die, too.

So these six members of Congress have introduced a bill to just do away with this whole debt-ceiling limit thing. Congress has already authorized the spending, so of course the administration has to go get the money to pay the bills that Congress told the administration to incur. Why does Congress have to then put a limit on the borrowing that they themselves ordered?

ThinkProgress has more, in Democratic Reps. To Introduce Legislation Abolishing The Debt Limit, (click through for links and the rest)

A group of six House Democrats will introduce legislation tomorrow to abolish the debt limit, a law they say is “unnecessary and increasingly an impediment to Congress’s ability to further economic recovery.” Reps. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Hank Johnson (D-GA), Jim Moran (D-VA), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Keith Ellison (D-MN), and Peter Welch (D-VT) will announce the legislation at a press conference tomorrow, according to a joint release, in an effort to “move forward with legislation that actually promotes jobs, economic recovery, and growth.”

The United States is one of only two democratic countries, along with Denmark, that has a statutory debt limit that requires the legislative branch to separately authorize borrowing and spending. The Danish congress, however, has “set the ceiling high enough so that it never slows the process of borrowing money and they can avoid political conflicts,” according to ABC News. Yesterday, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said “it would be a good thing” if the U.S. abolished its debt ceiling.

Yes, abolish this debt limit. It serves no purpose except to be used as a hostage, with Republicans threatening to destroy the economy unless we cut Social Security and Medicare, and hand even more money to the rich and corporations that fund them.

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