The Debt Ceiling : A Modest Proposal

No, it’s not to eat Irish babies until the debt declines, although considering Ireland has its own debt crisis, it’s a proposal they may well look into.  Actually I was thinking of the curious hangover left over from last August’s debt ceiling debacle.  The President was given the authority to raise the rest of the debt ceiling 1.2 trillion, automatically unless Congress steps in to block it.

Considering how terrible Congress performed in “negotiating” the spending cuts during the last debt squabble, maybe Congress should step in and block it.  Certainly the last budget cuts we got turned out to be a bust.  The budget is actually projected to go up from the 2011 amount.  So the Republicans didn’t really win anything of significance.  If you can’t even kill off NPR, you’ve pretty much failed.

But you can’t really expect progress when you are trading real deficit increases now for imaginary cuts in projected increases later.  That’s the classic magic beans deal that Washington wasted our time with in putting on its production of “We’re Cutting Spending – The Musical!”  Obama got an actual debt limit increase and Congress got to say it cut spending, without actually cutting anything.

So why, you may think, should I waste time recommending that Congress should step in and block the debt ceiling increase for another round of phony spending cuts?

I got a plan for that.

Republicans shouldn’t try to waste time negotiating any sort of spending cuts to trade for the debt ceiling increase. They will just be phony cuts anyway.

Instead Congress should, without preconditions, give the President the full 1.2 trillion debt ceiling increase that he is requesting… at a level of about 80 billion dollars per month, once a month. This will give the administration well under a trillion dollars to run as a deficit for the next year, then the next year decrease it to 50 billion per month and so on.

That way Congress can get control of both the budget and the budget deficit, and start reducing it based on the debt ceiling authority.  The onus for the cuts will fall on the administration to figure out how each department of government cuts spending to get through the year.  They apparently don’t want Congress’s help anyway.  But there will be plenty of money each month to service the debt and even go billions deeper each month into debt, but just not as much as they had planned.

It’s the same logic that have parents dole out a kid’s allowance weekly, rather than give their kid the full yearly amount on January 1st.  Children, like governments, are not mature enough to handle that much money at once, so it needs to be doled out in modest bits, at least until they grow up a little.

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