That is the headline on the 30th anniversary issue of Grant’s Interest Rate Observer, which this morning is, as it has been every other week for the past generation, being savored among the savvy. The latest headline sits atop one of the newsletter’s classic editorials. “Since 1917,” it quotes its analyst, Charley Grant, as reporting, “the ceiling has been raised 107 times. Expressed as a compound annual rate of growth, the debt ceiling has risen by 8.4%, the nominal GDP by 6% Twenty-nine more years on this track and the debt ceiling would be the size of the GDP.”
Grant’s also quotes President Van Buren as saying that the “creation in time of peace of a debt likely to become permanent is an evil for which there is no equivalent.” It is Grant’s view that it would “do the quality of debate a world of good if someone would move to reduce the ceiling, not to raise it.” We’re all for it. We comprehend it runs against what is being received by the Republicans in the way of political advice, which holds that confronting the debt ceiling would be a kind of suicide of the party. We’re not so sure.
We’ve been reading of late about not only Van Buren but also the titan in whose wake the Little Fox of Kinderhook acceded to the presidency. It was Andrew Jackson who fought — and won — what is known as the Bank War, meaning the campaign against the Second Bank of the United States, as our second attempt at a central bank was known. We wouldn’t want to take any thing away from Old Hickory, who was born with an incredible will, but it was his good fortune to confront a bank whose very charter of existence was set for a fixed term.