The nation's debt limit is an arbitrary political tool that tends to produce more crisis theatre than actual reform. The debate focuses on avoiding default instead of how we got here in the first place, and how we can get out of the cycle of deficit spending. And those who call for eliminating the limit because Congress is merely voting again to fund things already passed miss the point because most members of Congress never voted on those mandatory spending policies decades in the past.

Here's an idea: The debt limit should be linked to a date, say every two years, and could be raised quickly by the president if the budget deficit has been reduced to a pre-set target. However, if the deficit hasn't hit that target, Congress would have to debate the issue and raise the limit legislatively.

Bottom line: A regular checkpoint would create a stronger pattern of fiscal accountability between debt limit deadlines while still heightening awareness of the nation's outrageous $20 trillion in federal debt. Congress would get a transparent target for the budget deficit, and an incentive to meet that target, and markets would get more predictability by having clear deadlines.

Go deeper: Here's the Axios Facts Matter on the debt-limit and the latest news on the debate.

Go deeper

14 mins ago - World

Lebanon's prime minister resigns in wake of deadly explosion

Protests in Beirut. Photo: Maxim Grigoryev/TASS via Getty

Lebanon's prime minister and cabinet have resigned amid massive protests in the aftermath of a deadly explosion in Beirut that killed more than 160 people, injured 6,000 and left roughly 250,000 homeless.

Why it matters: Protesters blame the incompetence of the ruling elite — widely viewed as corrupt — for the disaster. The unstable and deeply distrusted government will remain in place in a caretaker capacity until a new prime minister is selected.

Updated 43 mins ago - World

Protests erupt in Belarus after "Europe's last dictator" claims election win

Protesters and riot police clash in Minsk, Belarus, on Sunday during a demonstration against President Alexander Lukashenko's claim of a landslide victory. Photo: Misha Friedman/Getty Images)

Riot police clashed with protesters in Belarus overnight after a government exit poll predicted Sunday President Aleksander Lukashenko, an authoritarian who has ruled the Eastern European country since 1994, had overwhelmingly defeated a pro-democracy opposition candidate.

Why it matters: It's a precarious moment for the former Soviet republic, where decades of repression and a complete disregard for the coronavirus pandemic threaten to topple "Europe's last dictator." Rights groups said at least one protester was killed and dozens more wounded in a "police crackdown," per AP.

Updated 57 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 11 a.m. ET: 19,909,062 — Total deaths: 732,128 — Total recoveries — 12,138,271Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 11 a.m. ET: 5,053,123 — Total deaths: 163,047 — Total recoveries: 1,656,864 — Total tests: 61,792,571Map.
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  4. Public health: How America can do smarter testing.
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  6. 🎧 Podcast: Indoor air is the next hotspot.