What's the point of the (US budget) debt ceiling?

This is the most worthless thing in US politics. First of all, it might be unconstitutional and if tested it might violate the 14th Amendment re: the validity of the debt. But more to reality, has it ever stopped any spending? Has any Congressperson ever gotten up in debate and said, “We shouldn’t spend this money or we will be out of money by October?” Doesn’t anyone keep track of how much money is being spent earlier in the year or make any effort to stay under the debt ceiling so that in let’s say July Congress can’t spend anymore in discretionary spending unless the ceiling is raised right then and there ? Do we honestly think that there will ever be a year where after both sides play their political games and maybe a week or two shutdown there won’t be an increase of the debt ceiling?

To be a political weapon for hypocritical conservatives.

It’s a political weapon on both sides. One could argue that the Dems use it to run up discretionary spending - then talk about how evil the Pubs are that they will allow the guv’ment to shut down. Kind of like how you brother/sister spends all thier money on meth, vodka and lottery tickets and then YOU are evil for not giving them money to pay rent and buy food.

History demonstrates this is untrue. The Republicans spend as much, if not more, than the Democrats. And the Democratic party never obstructs the raising of the limit (a few individuals voting against it for politics is far different than the whole party obstructing its raising).

One could, if one was prone to disingenuous arguments. Democrats almost always propose new taxes to pay for their discretionary spending, making it debt neutral. Of course, that sets Republican’s hair on fire, being the party that spends and cuts taxes without regard to the national debt.

And I don’t disagree with that - witness Mitch McConnell under Trump. However your post only pilloried the Pubs. My response was to show that it is a political game for both sides.

One could, if one was prone to disingenuous arguments. Democrats almost always propose new taxes to pay for their discretionary spending, making it debt neutral. Of course, that sets Republican’s hair on fire, being the party that spends and cuts taxes without regard to the national debt.

Simple - pass the tax increase as part of the spending bill.

But all of this “F Republicans. Everything bad is their fault.” rhetoric still does not address the issue - why a debt ceiling if it is worthless? Has it ever actually controlled spending? Is there any chance we won’t raise the debt ceiling to finish out a year?

Republicans filibuster Every. Single. Bill. that includes a tax increase.

The debt ceiling was not created to control spending, but it was instead created as a way of allowing spending to happen without having to issue bonds for each item individually.

So, rather than having congress authorize the selling of $100 billion in infrastructure bonds for the highways*, $200 billion for the army*, $100 billion for the airforce*, $150 billion for the navy*, and so on, instead, congress authorizes the selling of $1 trillion in treasury bonds to cover all the different expenses they incur.

*numbers pulled out of my ass with little if any relation to actual expenditures.

The debt limit in and of itself isn’t crazy. The Constitution includes among Congress’ enumerated powers the authority, “To borrow money on the credit of the United States.” So some sort of Congressional action is required in order for the Treasury to issue debt. So that Congress doesn’t have to individual authorize each debt issuance, they have given the Treasury authority to issue debt up to a certain limit. The problem is that taxing and spending decisions (which create deficits and the need to borrow) are divorced from the debt limit authorization.

But it’s not. The Democrats don’t use it this way.

And that is a feature not a bug. If the Pubs filibuster every spending bill that has a tax increase attached, then the US won’t spend that money and we stay under the debt ceiling.

Not really, not if you want a government that actually does anything.

I suppose it is a feature if you want the federal government to consist of a few hundred people that go to Washington D.C. and stand in an empty parking lot to argue over things that make no difference to anyone in the country.

And it also runs into the problem that whenever Republicans are in power, they cut taxes without cutting spending.

But why does the issuance of general debt as opposed to specific debt like k9bfriender and flurb point out require a corresponding debt ceiling? Why can’t Congress get rid of the debt ceiling completely and still continue to spend as it does? That the net effect of reality anyways.

Except when Republicans are in power, they pass spending bills and tax cuts without payfors, which is why we find ourselves in the debt position were are in today. Republicans have no problem raising the debt ceiling to cover tax cuts and forever wars, but suddenly get debt religion when Democrats regain power. It is so transparent, yet they bat their eyes in mock astonishment when they get called on it.

And this exactly proves my point. If the debt ceiling is going to be raised no matter who is doing the spending/taxation whether Dems this year or Pubs the next - then what’s the point of keeping it?

Congress could authorize a quadrillion dollar debt ceiling and be good for a little while.

But the constitution requires congress to authorize the issuance of debt. Without an amendment, they couldn’t just get rid of it.

Yep, Congress cannot give away its enumerated powers, so they could not simply abandon any role in authorizing the issuance of debt. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a debt limit per se – they could insert language into spending bills that say, “and the Treasury shall issue such debt as necessary to fund the spending herein.”

How do you propose we get rid of it?

It would take a constitutional amendment to change it so that congress no longer needs to authorize the issuance of debt. Considering the difficulty in just getting it raised sometimes, how do you think eliminating it is going to go?

But k9bfriender, maybe I’m just dense but why is any ceiling needed to authorize debt? Why couldn’t Congress get rid of the ceiling and spend theoretically ad infinitum? The debt ceiling didn’t exist before 1917 and Congress was able to spend fine before then.

We should abolish the debt ceiling. That’s not likely, though, because if the Republicans and the filibuster.