Trump Is Right (For Once): The Debt Ceiling Must Go

The debt ceiling serves no purpose other than to allow ambitious politicians to take the economy hostage.

A worker does maintenance on top of the Hart Senate Office Building in Washington DC, September 8, 2014
A worker does maintenance on top of the Hart Senate Office Building in Washington DC, September 8, 2014 (Architect of the Capitol)

Finally a good idea from Donald Trump.

The Washington Post reports that the American president has agreed with the leader of the Democratic opposition in the Senate, Charles Schumer, to find a way to abolish the debt ceiling.

When asked by a reporter, Trump said “there are lots of good reasons” for eliminating the measure.

Trump’s own Republicans, who have often used the debt ceiling as leverage to negotiate spending cuts, are appalled.

The debt ceiling has become a facade

Jack Balkin, a legal scholar, explains why.

Most people think the debt ceiling means Congress passes a law that authorities the Treasury to borrow up to a certain amount of money and that when this amount runs out it needs to pass another law to authorize the Treasury to borrow more.

Indeed, that’s what I thought. But that’s not how the debt ceiling has operated for the last four years.

What Congress has done since 2011 is suspend the debt ceiling for certain amounts of time. When this suspension expires, it writes a new law to suspend the debt ceiling again while acknowledging all the debt the Treasury has incurred in the meantime.

This makes a mockery of the whole process.

Political ploy

The debt ceiling was never effective in controlling spending, but at least it was a regular reminder of the huge debts the United States were taking on.

Now it’s nothing more than a political ploy.

As Balkin puts it, “its only purpose is to allow hostage-taking by ambitious politicians who want to risk crashing the nation’s economy in order to score political points.”

So let’s get rid of it.