Simple Fix for the Debt Ceiling: Eliminate the Fiction

The House Republicans are at it again. Having participated to one degree or another in the approval of a bunch of new spending over the past year, they now want to refuse to allow the Treasury to actually pay the bills they’ve already run up. In the guise of treating the act of raising the debt limit as new spending that must be curbed at all costs, the Right demands reductions in spending (in places other than where they’ve approved new expenditures of course) in exchange for the simple act of giving the go-ahead to sign the checks they’ve already written.

There’s an easy way to fix this.

Do away with the ludicrous fiction of a debt limit. Instead, require that every bill that appropriates money include a provision authorizing the Treasury to pay the bills it incurs as they come due. In effect, make the raising of the debt limit automatic with each new expenditure that requires it.

This is a simple procedural rule change that only has to take place in the House. If the GOP is serious about bringing spending under control, this gives them a great tool. Every time a new appropriations bill comes up they get to call attention to how much it increases the debt. And any Congresscritter who is opposed to raising the debt that much can simply vote against the bill.

I don’t expect a simple, common-sense idea like this to catch on. But it would be nice if it did, wouldn’t it?


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