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.

Go deeper

America's dwindling executions

The Trump administration wants to reboot federal executions, pointing to a 16-year lapse, but Pew Research reports the government has only executed three people since 1963.

The big picture: Nearly all executions in the U.S. are done by states. Even those have been steadily dropping for two decades, per the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) — marking a downward trend for all executions in the country.

Top NSC official may be moved after "Anonymous" rumor fallout

President Trump at the Daytona 500. (Photo: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Top Trump administration officials are in discussions to reassign deputy national security adviser Victoria Coates to the Department of Energy from the National Security Council, per two sources familiar with the planning.

Why it matters: Coates' working relationship with National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien, who elevated her to the deputy role only months ago, has strained amid an effort by some people inside the administration to tag her as "Anonymous" — a charge she has vehemently denied to colleagues.

Jeff Bezos commits $10 billion for climate change research

Bezos at Amazon Smbhav in New Delhi on Jan. 15. Photo: Sajjad Hussain/AFP via Getty Images

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos announced the launch of his "Earth Fund" on Monday via Instagram to fund climate change research and awareness.

What he's saying: Bezos says he's initially committing $10 billion to fund "scientists, activists, and NGOS" that are working on environmental preservation and protection efforts.