Sep 5, 2017

Reform the debt limit by tying it to the deficit

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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