The last time the debt-ceiling controversy arose, it occurred to me that if the raising the “ceiling” is a mere formality—if in fact the sky’s the limit to government borrowing—it’s no ceiling at all. Hence, I dubbed this charade the “debt sky.”
Those who favor automatic increases in the “limit”—or no limit at all—give the game away when they argue that the borrowing authority must be increased because the full faith and credit of the United States is on the line. After all, they say, the money is needed to pay bills already incurred, not for new spending. Obama makes this claim routinely, as though the case for raising the limit is open and shut.
Who knows if that is true? But if it is, think about what it means. Congress has been incurring bills the payment of which depends on a future increase in the debt limit that theoretically could be rejected. It’s bad enough that Congress can incur financial obligations under the statutory authority to borrow; it’s intolerable that Congress can incur financial obligations based on a possible but not certain future expansion of its authority to borrow. This is truly government run amok.