Should The Debt Ceiling Be Removed?

Thomas Sowell thinks it’s worth considering, writing in the National Review:

The national-debt-ceiling law should be judged by what it actually does, not by how good an idea it seems to be. The one thing that the national-debt ceiling has never done is put a ceiling on the rising national debt. Time and time again, for years on end, the national-debt ceiling has been raised whenever the national debt got near whatever the current ceiling was.

Regardless of what it is supposed to do, what the national-debt ceiling actually does is enable any administration to get all the political benefits of runaway spending for the benefit of their favorite constituencies — and then invite the opposition party to share the blame, by either raising the national-debt ceiling or voting for unpopular cutbacks in spending or increases in taxes.

The idea of a debt ceiling is good, provided that the law creating it is credible. In its American version, clearly it’s not. And it can’t be reformed into credibility either, because what it comes down to is not how the law is written but how it’s treated by the lawmakers.

The law should be repealed, and the debt ought instead to be debated in a more appropriate context: budget negotiations.

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