Debt Ceiling Deja Vu
August 27, 2013 2 Comments
The issue is a political and legal crisis. You have the Social Security Act on the books. You have appropriations bills on the books. It’s illegal to not pay Social Security recipients what they’re owed. It’s illegal to not pay federal marshals what they’re owed. It’s illegal to not pay defense contractors what they’re owed. And it’s illegal to seize extra tax money. If congress doesn’t raise the debt ceiling it also becomes illegal to borrow to fill the gap between legally authorized tax revenues and legally required spending. That’s nuts.
We’ve been through this. It’s not ‘nuts’ it’s just having contradictory laws on the books. And so one or the other (or both!) has to give, sure. But it’s not obvious which. There is symmetry.
You can’t just say ‘Congress wants’ to spend the money. ‘Congress’ also wants (under the scenario we’re now worried about again) not to raise the debt ceiling. This really shouldn’t be so puzzling and confusing to so many pundits because after all ‘Congress’ is not a person. Once again I’ll bring up Split The Difference as the most logical solution, with Mint The Coupon (or better yet, Perpetuals) as a backup.
Gaw, this is so exasperating, I ALREADY SOLVED ALL THIS STUFF. ON MY BLOG. WITH BLOGGING. Can’t you people read??
The second problem with negotiating over the debt ceiling is that it’s not a real disagreement. [...] raising the debt ceiling isn’t an Obama administration priority, it’s something Republicans also know is necessary.
‘Oppose’ would seem to preclude ‘know is necessary’.
Now, should there be a ‘negotiation’? Yes and no. In a way there should not. ‘Congress’ controls these purse strings and so in a way they should just figure it out amongst themselves and then tell the Executive what they’ve decided. However (under the no-ceiling-raise scenario) there might be a key bloc within Congress which will refuse to raise the debt ceiling unless conditions change. (This too should not be puzzling, that whether this or that person supports policy X depends on other conditions Y.) In that case, they could raise the debt ceiling while passing such-and-such law changing those conditions to their liking, only, Obama would presumably veto it (e.g. if it cuts spending he likes, cuts Obamacare, etc.) So, there is a natural fundamental reason to, in effect, ‘negotiate’ with Obama upfront about changes they could make that he won’t veto.
And so there you have it. This just isn’t either the rocket science or puzzling pathology that the pundits make it out to be.
My favorite solution would be to exploit the platinum coin loophole and put this issue behind us forever.
Wait, Matthew! I thought The Coin wasn’t just a ‘loophole’, it is legally required. Have you changed your expert legal opinion on this? Maybe that’s the real story here.
STILL TO COME: Will Ezra Klein try to get us scared again that we won’t have enough people ‘tracking down loose nukes’? Which reminds me, how are those ‘loose nukes’ doing by the way – how many have been ‘tracked down’ YTD by our Loose Nuke Tracker-Downer SuperSquad?