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.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: Americans feel Trump's sickness makes him harder to trustFlorida breaks record for in-person early voting — McConnell urges White House not to strike stimulus deal before election — Republican senators defend Fauci as Trump escalates attacks.
  2. Health: The next wave is gaining steam.
  3. Education: Schools haven't become hotspots — University of Michigan students ordered to shelter-in-place.
  4. World: Ireland moving back into lockdown — Argentina becomes 5th country to report 1 million infections.

Report: Goldman to settle DOJ probe into Malaysia's 1MDB for over $2B

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Goldman Sachs has agreed with the Department of Justice to pay over $2 billion for the bank's role in Malaysia's multi-billion dollar scandal at state fund 1MDB, Bloomberg first reported.

Why it matters: The settlement, expected to be announced within days, would allow Goldman Sachs to avoid a criminal conviction in the U.S. over the bribery and money laundering scandal that saw three of its former bankers banned for life from the banking industry by the Federal Reserve Board.

Trump threatens to post "60 Minutes" interview early after reportedly walking out

Trump speaks to reporters aboard Air Force One, Oct. 19. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump tweeted on Tuesday that he was considering posting his interview with CBS' "60 Minutes" prior to airtime in order to show "what a FAKE and BIASED interview" it was, following reports that he abruptly ended the interview after 45 minutes of taping.

Why it matters: Trump has escalated his war on the media in the final stretch of his re-election campaign, calling a Reuters reporter a "criminal" this week for not reporting on corruption allegations about Hunter Biden and disparaging CNN as "dumb b*stards" for the network's ongoing coronavirus coverage.