All this talk about raising the debt ceiling when the fact is—like almost “every other democratic country”—we shouldn’t have one at all, writes James Surowiecki in the New Yorker. “There’s no debt limit in the Constitution,” and Congress already has a way to control spending. It’s called the budget, and unlike debt ceiling debates, “it doesn’t risk economic chaos.” Indeed, “the only reason we need to lift the debt ceiling is to pay for spending that Congress has already authorized.”
The ceiling is a dated concept: It was invented when Congress had little control over spending, unlike today. In short, it’s a self-made problem, and “for the US to default now, when investors are happily lending it money at exceedingly reasonable rates, would be akin to shooting yourself in the head for failing to follow your diet.” There may appear to be “benefits to putting negotiators under the gun,” but actually, “by turning dealmaking into a game of chicken, the debt ceiling favors fanaticism.” The economy “has plenty of real problems to deal with. We shouldn’t have to wrestle with ones we’ve created for ourselves.” Read his full column.