Changing Rules on Debt Ceiling Is a Genius Idea

Matthew Yglesias: Last year's showdown set dangerous precedent
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 30, 2012 12:44 PM CST
Changing Rules on Debt Ceiling Is a Genius Idea
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner testifies on Capitol Hill in July.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

One of the proposals being floated by the White House in the fiscal cliff talks is to change the rules on the federal debt ceiling. The White House, any White House, would no longer need congressional approval to go above the ceiling. "It's a great idea," writes Matthew Yglesias at Slate. The rule has traditionally resulted in harmless political grandstanding, but last year's dangerous showdown changed things. "Some combination of malign intent on the part of John Boehner and strategic miscalculation on the part of Barack Obama weaponized it," and now it's too late to go back.

Geithner's plan "is to turn the debt ceiling back into a grandstanding game by flipping the order of operations." Instead of approving an increase in the first place, Congress could only try to block one by passing a resolution against it. The president, however, would have veto power. Voilà: "Congress gets its chance at symbolic opposition, and there's no risk to the economy." Read the full post here. (Read more fiscal cliff stories.)

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