Uwe Anspach/DPA

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin argued that the debt ceiling is a "somewhat ridiculous concept" during a discussion with Mike Allen at the debut of Axios' News Shapers event series Friday morning. "This isn't limit of what we can spend," he said, '"it's a payment limitation." He again called on Congress to raise the debt limit before summer recess.

Technically, he's right: The debt limit was invented nearly 100 years ago to free Congress from having to approve each new debt issuance. Instead, it gives Treasury the freedom to issue debt up to a certain level to make the financing of already approved spending more efficient.

But out of step with Republicans: Budget hawks see the debt ceiling as the only tool left in their belt for fighting the automatic growth of entitlement spending approved by previous Congresses. If the debate over healthcare is any indication, far right members of Congress will demand significant budgetary sacrifices to vote to allow the issuance of more debt.

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 8 a.m. ET: 21,239,182 — Total deaths: 766,414— Total recoveries: 13,265,843Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 8 a.m ET: 5,314,021 — Total deaths: 168,458 — Total recoveries: 1,796,326 — Total tests: 65,676,624Map.
  3. Health: The coronavirus-connected heart ailment that could lead to sudden death in athletes.
  4. States: California passes 600,000 confirmed coronavirus cases.
  5. Cities: Coronavirus pandemic dims NYC's annual 9/11 Tribute in Light.
  6. Business: How small businesses got stiffed — Unemployment starts moving in the right direction.
  7. Politics: Biden signals fall strategy with new ads.

Kamala Harris and the political rise of America's Indian community

Vice presidential hopeful Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

When Democrats next week formally nominate the daughter of an Indian immigrant to be vice president, it'll be perhaps the biggest leap yet in the Indian American community's rapid ascent into a powerful political force.

Why it matters: Indian Americans are one of the fastest-growing, wealthiest and most educated demographic groups in the U.S. Politicians work harder every year to woo them. And in Kamala Harris, they'll be represented in a major-party presidential campaign for the first time.

3 hours ago - Health

The cardiac threat coronavirus poses to athletes

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Cardiologists are increasingly concerned that coronavirus infections could cause heart complications that lead to sudden cardiac death in athletes.

Why it matters: Even if just a tiny percentage of COVID-19 cases lead to major cardiac conditions, the sheer scope of the pandemic raises the risk for those who regularly conduct the toughest physical activity — including amateurs who might be less aware of the danger.