11.18.2010

Raising the Debt Ceiling

It's interesting to see Representatives Boehner and Sessions trying to lay the groundwork for a GOP vote to raise the debt ceiling.

I'm sorry - I'm just not buying it at this time.  There's time before the vote in the spring, as the article points out, and I think the party's entire effort must be put into pushing a plan to make cuts and changes that avoid the need to raise the ceiling.  Start laying the groundwork by telling people that it's going to be a bit painful, instead of telling us months in advance that it's nearly impossible to avoid raising the ceiling. 

Unfortunately, I think the GOP needs to take the issue to the brink to extract fiscally responsible changes or they will never materialize.  At the same time, it needs to be cognizant of the ramifications of failing to raise the debt limit - and begin to defuse them in advance.  If nothing else, it needs to start giving various economic actors notice that the limit might not go up, that we might go over the brink.

Although, as Josh Barro points out, there may be no brink.  The Obama administration may simply find ways to wiggle on regardless of a failure to raise the limit.  And that may have ironic implications: "The downside of a debt limit impasse being a non-catastrophe is that Washington lawmakers are more likely to allow it to happen."

If this GOP majority cannot put a halt to the increases, though, I don't know what political force will ever be able to stop the trend of ballooning debt allowances.