Debt Ceiling PSA

To use the technical political science term, the debt ceiling is dumb.  It is dumb regardless of who is in the White House and irrespective of which party controls Congress.  It is dumber than the day is long.  It is so dumb that the depths of the ocean cannot contain its dumbness.  An infinite number of monkeys typing on an infinite number of typewriters could not write up how dumb it is.

It does not constrain spending.  It does not affect the size of government.  It has nothing to do with influencing the budget.

It is just plain dumb.

Here is my post from 2011 on the subject:  What is the Debt Ceiling?

To quote me:

Here’s the deal:  the spending has already been authorized—the bills are going to come due (bills like, for example, continuing military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya or keeping air traffic controllers in towers and stuff like that).  As such, we have to borrow to keep paying the bills.

If you didn’t pay attention to the above paragraph, please go read it again.

(How depressing is it that the Afghanistan and Iraq references still hold six years later?).

FILED UNDER: Afghanistan War, US Politics, , , , , ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. gVOR08 says:

    My idiot GOP “Representative” sent me a mailing with the usual argument that this is like raising the credit limit on your credit card because you blew through the old credit limit. I wrote back explaining that, no, it’s like not paying your credit card bill. I was, of course, wasting a stamp.

  2. Kari Q says:

    You’re right, of course, the debt ceiling is dumb. The only thing dumber is refusing to raise it when it needs to be done. I can’t even begin to figure the kind of damage that would do to the world economy, but I suspect we’ll find out.

  3. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    (How depressing is it that the Afghanistan and Iraq references still hold six years later?).

    You might as well get used to it. When John McCain committed us to 1000 years of occupation during his Presidential run, he was simply reflecting the views of his neocon and Grand Old Party nation-building compatriots. Now Trump is on board with it, too.

    I just recently turned 65. People in my family, including my father, typically live into their 90s, but I’m still willing to wager that I’ll pass on before our troops come home. I hope I’m wrong but not optimistic about it.

  4. Hal_10000 says:

    I once compared the “starve the beast” strategy for cutting govt spending to eating a huge slice of cake hoping it would motivate you to go the gym. But metaphors fail me when it comes to the debt ceiling. If we were to ever breach it, the increased interest would eventually dwarf even the most draconian budget cuts being proposed. I guess it would be like trying to lose weight by putting a cheesecake cannon to your mouth.

  5. Ratufa says:


    Starve the beast makes a kind of sense if you think of it as putting a cheesecake cannon in your mouth in hope that it will cause an adverse medical event that motivates you to change your eating habits.

  6. Grumpy Realist says:

    @Hal_10000: I think it’s more along the “anthrax and rusty tire rims for lunch” level of stupidity.

  7. Console says:

    But metaphors fail me when it comes to the debt ceiling.

    It’s like not paying your bills so you can save money because if you don’t save money you might reach a point where you can’t pay your bills.

  8. Tony W says:

    @Console: I think my head just exploded