Debt and Deficits

A Ringside Seat to the Debt Ceiling Fight

With our debt about to explode, the debt limit is more needed than ever. Congress needs to resist the calls to dispose of it.

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Lew
SHAWN THEW/EPA/Newscom

If most lawmakers had their way, there would be fewer rules to restrain them from growing spending and the national debt. Case in point: the 2015 suspension of the debt limit—the maximum amount of money the government may borrow—as part of a deal to increase spending above the previously agreed-upon spending caps.

Now that the debt ceiling's suspension is set to expire in March, outgoing Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew is making the case for scrapping the constraint altogether. He just wrote an essay for the Harvard Journal on Legislation. The Wall Street Journal summarized his argument thus: "It isn't an effective device for imposing fiscal discipline and instead provokes partisan standoffs that threaten economic calamity."

On the surface, he seems to have a point. First, we've witnessed during the past few years some serious fights between those who want to raise the limit with no questions asked and those who demand that an increase be paired with spending restraints. Second, since 1993, the limit has increased almost 20 times—and the federal debt has ballooned from less than $5 trillion to almost $20 trillion, providing ammunition for the argument that it's inefficient at controlling spending.

But this wasn't always the case. In fact, the debt limit played a more restraining role before the 1979 adoption of the "Gephardt rule," a parliamentary rule that considered the debt ceiling raised when a budget resolution was passed. The rule, which was very useful to big-government lawmakers who didn't want to be seen voting for more debt, stayed in place until the Republican takeover of the House in 1995 and was fully repealed in 2001. Being the decadent spenders they were under President George W. Bush, however, Republicans reinstated it twice, in 2003 and 2005.

Yet in recent years, the tea party movement—fed up with Washington's fiscal irresponsibility—demanded a floor vote on the debt ceiling and, with it, a nationwide focus on our debt level. This led to the now famous debt ceiling battle of 2011, which produced an agreement placing caps on spending over 10 years.

Bipartisanship has lifted the caps several times ever since. Although, for the short time they were in place, caps did play a role in imposing some level of fiscal discipline on Congress—discipline that would have never existed if it hadn't been for the debt ceiling fight.

Scaremongering about the debt ceiling is hard to stomach, with many people repeating the claim by Lew that the standoff between the two parties around the decision to raise the limit could itself lead to a U.S. default. Though defaulting on our debt isn't acceptable, raising the government borrowing authority without a commitment to improving our long-term debt problem is irresponsible, too. In 2011, Fitch Ratings warned the U.S. government that though it supported raising the debt ceiling, it also wanted the government to come up with a credible medium-term plan for deficit reduction.

Congressional Budget Office projections show that federal debt held by the public will reach 77.2 percent of gross domestic product by the end of 2017—3.5 percentage points higher than in 2015. It's also expected that debt will grow from $20 trillion this year to $28 trillion by 2026.

If Congress were to do nothing to reform the drivers of our future debt—Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security—before March, the optimal outcome would then be to raise the debt limit while Congress and the president pass a credible plan to reduce near- and long-term spending at the same time.

If an agreement were not to be reached, it wouldn't mean we would default. Contrary to the misleading statement made by Lew during the previous debt ceiling debate, Treasury has the legal authority to prioritize interest payments on the debt above all other obligations, whether that means delaying payments to contractors or managing other obligations. It's not ideal, but it beats the alternatives.

With our debt about to explode, the debt limit is more needed than ever. Congress needs to resist the calls to dispose of it.

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  1. Hey, Reagan proved deficits don’t matter. Jesus people, when are you going to learn that?

  2. If you think that politicians with an incentive to spend lots of other people’s money are going to be meaningfully constrained by having to vote on a debt ceiling hike …

    1. If I could go back in time and get the Founders to change one thing about the Constitution it would be to prohibit Congress from borrowing money other than in times of rebellion or during a declared war. Unless you are at war or putting down a rebellion, Congress shouldn’t be borrowing money at all. And I say that even after accounting for the need and the wisdom of governments borrowing money to pay for long term capital projects. This is why I would allow the states to borrow money. But the states borrowing money is a problem that solves itself because they can’t print their own money to pay their debts like Congress can.

      Congress should have never been given the power to borrow money absent national emergency. Imagine all of the troubles that could have been avoided had that been the rule.

      1. Loophole: ask Congress to formally declare war on drugs, crime, poverty, etc.

      2. get the Founders to change one thing about the Constitution

        Drop the word “reasonable”?

      3. I am not sure we need the War exception. Just cut back in other areas or raise taxes during the war period.

        If the war is popular, people will accept the hardship.

        1. No. If it is a big war for the country’s survival, you are going to have to borrow to win it. If your enemy is borrowing money and you are not, you are going to lose if it is even close to an even fight.

          But it should have to be a declared war.

          1. When was there ever a war for this country’s survival?

            1. We were invaded in 1812. After we invaded Canada, but still. Other than the Revolution and the Civil War, which don’t really count, its basically the only war fought on US territory (ignoring the bombing of Pearl Harbor).

            2. War of 1812 as Rob mentions. Moreover, just because it hasn’t happened doesn’t mean it can’t happen and shouldn’t be something that is allowed for in the document.

              1. I dont know if we should treat the British as terrorists for burning the White House or praise them.

              2. The War of 1812 was a silly example to prove you wrong John. It is the only example and it in no way endangered the continued existence of the country.

            3. WW2 comes to mind….it didn’t get as far as our borders, but is there any indication AT ALL that it would’ve stopped earlier, absent American intervention?

            4. WWII. If Hitler succeeded in developing the bomb, I have no doubt he would have dropped nukes on the US until we capitulated.

      4. As someone who thinks Keynes had some good points, the only times the Federal Government should be borrowing is when we’re in an existential war or when the economy is under extraordinary duress. I’d go with the idea that you need 75% of both Houses to vote in favor before running a deficit. For reference the Iraq War Resolution fell short of that in the House, as did the TARP bailout & the Stimulus Bill in 2009. If you can get 75% of Congress to agree that the shit has hit the fan, it’s really hit the fan.

        We should not be running a deficit at this point & or for the foreseeable future unless Trump kicks off some disastrous trade wars.

  3. Article 1 Section 8 Powers of Congress

    To borrow Money on the credit of the United States;

    Congress can’t scrap the debt ceiling or at least it can’t with a proper reading of the Constitution.

    1. I think the Gephardt rule is what Ms. de Rugy means. Just deeming whatever amount of credit necessary to finance the budget plus existing debt is the new debt ceiling by rule.

      1. Yes, that is what she means. But I don’t think that is permissible anymore than passing a budget that said “let the executive spend all they like” is permissible under the constitution. Congress has the exclusive power to borrow money. They should not be able to use this power in the form of a blank check anymore than they can use the spending power in that way.

        1. let the executive spend all they like

          Expect Nancy Pelosi’s corpse to push this act through for President Booker in 2032.

          1. “Expect Nancy Pelosi’s corpse to push this act through for corpse of President Booker Hillary in 2032.”

              1. On Hillary’s 6th try, she finally wins. It’s just her head mounted on a podium. Imagine in a harsh squawking voice: EVERYTHING IS FREE AND IT’S NOT GOING TO COST A DIME! I HAVE A 30 TRILLION DOLLAR PLAN! SQUAWK SQUAWK SQUAWK! CACKLE CACKLE CACKLE!

            1. That era will be known as Weekend at Hillary’s where Democrats just wheel out her vegetable-ized body and her various grunts and moans guide us to the progressive utopia.

  4. Every time that Congress wants to spend another dollar, they should be required to personally mine more bitcoins, with their coin-mining PCs powered by electric generators on their pwn personal exercise bicycles…

    That’s the true fix!

    1. Not a bad idea. Although the Constitution gives Congress the power to coin money, it doesn’t require that it does so. There’s no mention of printed money. So abolish the Bureau of Printing and Engraving, and encourage the use of competing currencies, thereby taking the wind out of the sails of inflation.

      It has never been clear to me, though, how Congress could “regulate the value … of foreign coin.”

  5. The problem is we’re not spending enough.

    /Krugnuts

  6. Even if you had a militant Congress that refused to raise the debt ceiling or a President who refused to sign such, all it would do is forcibly balance the budget. It wouldn’t shut the government down. It would by default place the President in the position of unilaterally deciding which obligations get met with the incoming revenue and which did not. That would represent a huge expansion of Presidential power but it would not cause default unless the President choose not to pay the bonds, which only a lunatic would do.

    1. There are some people, elected officials even, who consider bankruptcy a financial tool, not a disastrous failure. I won’t name names…

      1. Bankruptcy is a financial tool. The threat of default is always present where there is debt. That is why the lender gets interest and that interest varies by the risk of default. Whether the US government squeezing its bond holders with the threat of default is a good idea is very debatable. What is not debatable or should not be debatable is whether that is a legitimate tactic. It most certainly is. The bond holders assumed some risk of default when they bought the bonds.

        1. Interest is essentially rent on money. Instead of spending your money today, you lend it to someone so you have more money to spend tomorrow.

          However part of what determines the interest rate a lender requires in order to lend the money *is* the creditworthiness of the person (or company or country) you’re loaning to.

    2. It would by default place the President in the position of unilaterally deciding which obligations get met with the incoming revenue and which did not.

      The flaw in this theory is that SCOTUS has already ruled in a 9-0 decision (Train v. City of New York) that the President cannot unilaterally refuse to spend money that Congress has authorized for a program and also ruled much more recently in a 6-3 decision (Clinton v. City of New York — with the majority including Thomas, Kennedy, and Ginsburg of the surviving justices, Breyer in dissent) that Congress cannot delegate power to the President to decide not to spend money authorized by Congress for the the purpose it was authorized. So under what authority can the President decide how to spend money to cover budget items when the amount authorized for borrowing is less than the amount authorized for spending? Because that sounds like it’s just constructively the line item veto struck down in Clinton.

  7. raising the government borrowing authority without a commitment to improving our long-term debt problem is irresponsible, too

    A commitment by the government is worth absolutely nothing. Even if they mean it, it can be scrapped by their successors.

    1. Bingo. Like any debt, it is only as good as the debtor’s willing to pay or absent that the lender’s ability to collect it, which when the debtor is a government with an Army and police forces is zero.

      1. *** rising intonation ***

        What about the full faith and credit …?

        1. All Debts contracted and Engagements entered into, before the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be as valid against the United States under this Constitution, as under the Confederation.

          Only applies to debts that existed at the time of the ratification of the Constitution.

          1. The problem is Section 4 of the 14th Amendment:

            The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, … shall not be questioned.

            A straight read would indicate that the U.S. Government must pay its debts, no matter what.

            1. Even if it means they can’t pay salaries or on contracts or anything else that isn’t actually for money borrowed.

              1. Indeed, no one should buy the bullshit that the 14A forces Congress to appropriate additional monies for paying debt service, or worse yet that it grants the President the power to raise money if Congress doesn’t. What it actually means is that debt service must be paid even if there is not enough left over to pay for all the other things as well.

  8. Look, just one more hit and they pinky promise they’ll kick the habit for good and go to rehab.

  9. Congressional Budget Office projections show that federal debt held by the public will reach 77.2 percent of gross domestic product by the end of 2017?3.5 percentage points higher than in 2015. It’s also expected that debt will grow from $20 trillion this year to $28 trillion by 2026.

    Let’s assume for the sake of discussion that CBO projections and expectations are correct. Then so what? What seems to be needed is someone (Trump? Dr. Strangelove?) clearly spelling out how TSHTF as a result of the debt. If there’s no, um, realistic doom resulting from this foolishness — hell yeah, PARTY ON! 8-(

    1. If the government ever went tits up and defaulted on some or all of that debt, it would suck for the bond holders and the economy and a lot of other people. It would not, however, be the end of the nation or cause the country to fall into some Mad Max diplopia. Governments have gone tits up before and the nations they governed did not fall into anarchy or cease to exist.

      1. OK. Have “the government” issue a proclamation that, say, when the debt reaches 90% of GDP “we” are defaulting.

      2. I have it on good faith from my friends in Europa that the USA is already a Mad Max dystopia.

  10. I think the Senate already passed a resolution on the ACA repeal and replace which includes a huge spending bill. So basically, what it sounds like to me is that the GOP plan to take the money already being wasted on a disastrous healthcare debacle and move it over to their favored cronies so they can waste in on the next disastrous healthcare debacle. Sound about right?

    1. So basically, what it sounds like to me is that the GOP plan to take the money already being wasted on a disastrous healthcare debacle and move it over to their favored cronies so they can waste in on the next disastrous healthcare debacle the right Top. Men.

  11. “About to explode”. Heh.

    1. “No, *really*, Baby! I’m almost there!”

      1. “Kiff, fetch my video camera!”

  12. If most lawmakers had their way, there would be fewer rules to restrain them from growing spending and the national debt.

    Well no shit, Sherlock. They don’t want restraints on their ability to grow spending and increase the debt on the necessary things they’re proposing – they just want restraints on all that pork-barrel spending those other wastrel sonsabitches are proposing.

  13. The most realistic, possibility of bringing out debt under control is from a balanced budget amendment, and Congress isn’t likely to restrict itself that way out of principle. The good news is that Congress doesn’t really need to be involved in the amendment process.

    I don’t know much about the Balanced Budget Task Force, but if I worked at Reason, this is something I’d want to cover. Maybe they’re full of crap. I don’t know anything about them.

    http://bba4usa.org/

    But their website claims that 28 of the 34 state legislatures needed to call a constitutional convention for the purpose of proposing a balanced budget amendment have already done so. Amending the Constitution would require 38 state legislatures to pass it.

    The Republicans now control 32 state legislatures outright. Of the six more states that website says are needed to propose a convention, it looks like they’re all controlled by Republicans outright.

    1. The problem with a balanced budget amendment is that there is no way to enforce it. What happens when Congress and the President don’t balance the budget? Who would have standing to sue to enforce the law? Even if someone did, how would a judge enforce it? The only way I could see is a judge unilaterally deciding how to balance the budget. And that would be worse than what we have now.

      In reality, a balanced budget amendment would just be a weapon to embarrass Congress for not following it. And since few members of Congress if any have any shame, I don’t think it would have much of an effect.

      1. Even if someone did, how would a judge enforce it?

        Order the president, vice president, and both houses of congress be confined to the House Chamber until they comply with the requirement to pass a balanced budget. They can only leave if they resign from their office.

        1. How many Infantry Divisions does the judiciary have? How many law enforcement officers? There would be no way to enforce any judicial order to balance the budget.

          1. As part of the Amendment, we give the Judiciary an infantry division. Suck it Andy Jackson!

      2. There are a number of ways to address this–and different countries have done it in different ways.

        Both Chile and Sweden have systems that work this way. I like the way Sweden’s looks at the cap as a percentage of GDP.

        Suffice it to say, it’s been done.

        And how does Congress enforce debt ceilings now? They have to raise them–they don’t simply ignore them. Having the full force of a Constitutional amendment would make them comply even more so than they do with a budget ceiling agreement.

        If we gave them a ’til 2050 to balance it, they’d probably adopt self-imposed spending caps between now and then. I like going out beyond 30 years so it doesn’t cause any wild disruptions in the bond markets overnight, but it can be done and it’s been done.

        1. They enforce them because the executive respects the rule. If the executive ever ignored the rule, they wouldn’t be respected.

          The point is that if Congress and the president want to ignore a law, they pretty much can with impunity. The courts can stomp their feet all they want but they have no way to enforce their rulings. And on something like this, Congress and the President would ignore it.

          All such an amendment would do is give the President the power to ignore Congress and balance the budget as he choose fit with the money he had. That might work but we are unlikely to get a President who would have the nerve to do that and if we ever did, we likely wouldn’t need a balanced budget amendment anyway.

          1. It’s like that with everything, though, John.

            If Congress and the President want to ignore the Supreme Court and its rulings, they can.

            That isn’t unique to balanced budget amendments.

            The President can do anything that doesn’t get him impeached and removed from office.

            What if the President were impeached, they voted to remove him from office, and he wouldn’t leave?

            At that point, I guess we’re looking at the loyalty of the military.

            Regardless, the Constitution is the ultimate authority on what is and isn’t acceptable–with the full force of law–and giving a balanced budget that sort of authority and legitimacy with a Constitutional amendment and, presumably, whatever legitimacy a Supreme Court ruling would give it–that’s would give it a substantial impact on domestic policy.

            In the past, people have felt it necessary to repeal certain amendments. They did that with prohibition. In the past, these Amendments have had such force that Presidents and courts have considered them substantial enough that they either need to be complied with (in some way) or repealed. I want a balanced budget to be like that.

            Prop 13 was like that. The California state legislature wanted that tax money so bad, it may have physically hurt them not to be able to get it. But it was upheld by the Supreme Court, so they couldn’t ignore it. Or, rather, they didn’t ignore it.

      3. Forget a new amendment. Repeal XVII and give back to the states their direct say in Federal legislation.

        1. Also require all revenue by apportioned to each state by population and let the state collect it.

          With the Senate controlled by the states and the states funding the Feds directly, I think spending gets under control in a hurry.

          Unfunded mandates? Yeah, those are gone too.

    2. If you don’t want to stick with realistic, I’ve proposed divvying up the government’s intake amongst the Senators and Congressman – say, $3b each – and telling them they’re free to apportion the money as they see fit to whatever part of the government they see fit. No more arguing over which agency or program deserves more spending, put your money where your mouth is and give them more money. The caveat is that any proposed deficit spending has to come out of their own pockets and whatever budget surplus may arise from their allotment, half of it goes back to the Treasury and the other half they can stick in their pocket.

      Now, you may think this would result in a lot of crooks running for office just to line their own pockets, and you’d be right. But if you understand the free market, you understand that you’re going to have a sort of reverse auction where every crook strives to be the lowest bidder, the least crooked, in order to get elected. And you’re never again going to not see a budget surplus.

      1. That would be terrible and also really interesting to watch play out. Both parties would pitch a fit just thinking about it. I like it and also hate it.

    3. Unfortunately, once a convention is called by the states, there’s no way to limit what amendment(s) actually get proposed. They could propose any change or additions they wanted or rewrite the thing entirely. Now if they did the same setup as in the original that it doesn’t become effective until the 3/4 of the states ratify it but only those states that *have* ratified it are subject to it, we could get a new secession movement going.

  14. If there were a constitutional convention called for the purpose of proposing an amendment to balance the federal budget by, say, 2050, then the midterms in 2018 would be about little else, and all the action would be happening in the state legislatures.

    This would be a rare opportunity for us to use democracy to do something (dare I say?) to make America great again.

    It is unreasonable to expect Congress to restrain itself on spending when bringing taxpayer money home is such a good way to get reelected. Much more realistic if it comes from the state legislatures at the behest of the grass roots–like it did with Perot, the Tea Party, Howard Jarvis, etc.

    1. It’s unreasonable to expect Congress to restrain itself on anything. When has an extremely lucrative criminal organization ever restrained itself? And this is the biggest and most successful crime mob in history.

      1. Well, they’re certainly not going to handcuff themselves on principle–not for long, anyway.

        They’ll do it in an emergency. Gingrich’s successful push for fiscal responsibility was very much a reaction to Perot doing so well at the polls. Convince Republicans in swing states that they need to do the right thing if they want to keep their jobs, and they’ll do the right the thing.

        Convince them they need to funnel as much federal money as they can to their own districts, and they’ll do that regardless of principle.

        Sitting around hoping that politicians will stick to a balanced budget principle over the objections of their own constituents is unreasonable. They’ll never seriously slash the budget until they have no other choice. You can give them no other choice for an election cycle or two by scaring the shit out of them with a grass roots movement like Perot’s (or the Tea Party or Howard Jarvis), but fear fades over time.

        Constitutional amendments last longer.

        1. Public office should not be a full time job. It should be an unpaid public service. Congress doesn’t need to meet more than a couple of times a year to pass a budget and start repealing the mountains of completely useless regulations and laws. Basically, there is nothing else left to do. Cut government employees by 95% and let people get real jobs. Until money and power through political career is taken out, it will just keep getting more and more corrupt and costly.

          1. This is basically the Texas philosophy on legislators, only they only meet every other year. Legislators get paid $600/month, plus $190 per diem per session day, with the session length capped at 140 days every other year. Basically, they get $300/day of work, with about 1/3rd of that spread over their two year term.

  15. One big problem is that it’s not clear if the debt ceiling is actually constitutional.

    Suppose congress passed appropriations that went over the current debt limit but elected not to raise the ceiling. The president can’t repudiate the debt (Amendment 14 Section 4). He also can’t not spend appropriated funds (Train v. City of New York). How is debt ceiling supposed to be enforced?

    If congress wants to limit debt, the place to do it is in the appropriation bills themselves. But this would require actually voting to cut things and defending those cuts to the voters. So they create this fictional “debt ceiling” so they can simultaneously vote to spend more and spend less. Schroedinger’s Taxes, if you will.

    1. Schroedinger’s Taxes

      Nice!

    2. That is an easy conflict to resolve. The President has a constitutional duty to make good on the debts of the United States. He has a statutory duty to spend money that has been appropriated by Congress. So, if Congress appropriates more money than the debt ceiling allows, they are imposing a statutory duty on the President to spend the money. A statutory duty does not override the President’s constitutional duty to both make good on the government’s debt and the constitutional prohibition against the President or anyone but Congress borrowing money on the government’s credit.

      So what would happen in that case is the President would pay the debts and then meet as many of the appropriations as he could after paying the debt. It would have the effect of putting the President in charge of the budget. But that would not be unconstitutional since the President would be meeting his constitutional duties but only violating his statutory duties to spend all of the money appropriated.

      Remember, before the 1974 Budget Act, the President had the authority not to spend money appropriated by Congress. The President could and did frequently do something called “impoundments” where he just didn’t spend appropriated money. This was Constitutional since the Constitution only says no money can be spent without the consent of Congress but in no way requires money Congress consents to spending actually be spent.

      1. He has a statutory duty to spend money that has been appropriated by Congress.

        Train v. City of New York specifically ruled that the President has a constitutional duty to spend appropriated funds for separation of powers reasons.

        1. Not exactly. Train said the President had a constitutional duty to carry out the “full scope of the Programs” appropriated by Congress. It said the President could not kill off entire programs or reduce them through impoundment. Train didn’t entirely kill off impoundment. If you look at the holding it killed off impoundments which amounted to the President shirking his duties as chief executive. I think impoundments that are too small to amount to that are still okay under Train, though not okay under the 1974 Budget Act.

          In this case, the President doesn’t have the money to fund the program. He either must violate his duty to pay all debts or violate his duty to spend all of the money or borrow money without constitutional authority. I don’t see Train applying in that case. This isn’t a case of the President trying to circumvent Congress. This is a case of the President being unable to meet all of his Constitutional duties because of Congress refusing to provide the money. A court’s choices would be to authorize the President to borrow money without consent of Congress, authorize the President to not honor debts, or not fully implement the will of Congress. And that is an easy answer. Congress didn’t appropriate the money or authorize the borrowing of it, so its programs don’t get fully funded.

      2. The amount appropriated and the amount available are two different things, or at least they should be. Otherwise I think I’ll appropriate the money for a new car.

    3. He also can’t not spend appropriated funds (Train v. City of New York).

      Referencing John above, how is the judiciary gonna enforce that? The President can choose not to spend the money, and the only recourse Congress has is to impeach him.

      1. Yes. And if the money really wasn’t there and the only way he could spend the money was to go beyond his Constitutional powers and power against the public credit or by choosing to not honor a public debt, no way in hell would a court demand he do that versus just not spending money that Congress didn’t provide.

      2. If the president is willing to just ignore the courts, why would he care what the debt ceiling is anyways?

        1. His checkbook isn’t valid until congress deposits the money in the bank.

          Metaphorically, and hopefully literally.

          1. Except if we’re assuming the President is ignoring the law, then he doesn’t need Congress to “deposit the money in the bank” — the Treasury Department conducts the bond auctions, not Congress.

        2. He could do that Stormy, but let me ask you this. Would you buy a government bond that had been issued over the objection of Congress or unilaterally by the President and was thus of uncertain legality? I wouldn’t and I doubt many other people would either.

        3. Besides what John said, the Treasury Secretary would be much easier to impeach than the President, and the former would be responsible for issuing the debt instruments. The Federal Reserve could in theory make all of this moot by just printing more money (literally or metaphorically), but that opens up other fun Constitutional questions.

    1. Oh, the leftards and SJWs have been on this ridiculous theme for a while now. There’s an entire army of lawyers lined up to fight for robot rights. Idiots. Free the sexbot victims!

      1. Just wait until the robots vote to replace that army with an expert system.

        1. Making lawyers obsolete is a move I can get behind.

      2. I claim that no entity (human, other life form, robot, whatever) can have rights unless at least most members of its species have morals, ethics, and the ability to conduct a rational discussion about the matter. Rights are for thinkers.

    2. Shows you exactly how highly they think of organic persons.

  16. Look, if it goes up every time you bump your head on it, it’s not a ceiling, it’s a hat.

  17. Like any restraint passed by the legislative branch on itself, it’s only binding for as long as the branch wants it to be binding.

    Congress is performing a stick-up using a suicide vest, essentially.

    I’m not against it as a whole, it occasionally draws minor spending cut concessions out of otherwise implacable spendthrifts. But it’s certainly no answer to the big picture problem.

  18. How about a compromise, we’ll get rid of the “debt ceiling” but the government can only spend money that was not borrowed into existance. Deal?

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