[Update: Here's what The Economist has to say about the debt ceiling.]
Here we go again with the political grandstanding around the idiotic "debt ceiling" -- idiotic because it's defined in a fixed number of dollars instead of a percentage of GDP.
I sound like a broken record on this, but I'm not giving up on it. Instead of reinventing the wheel, I'll simply quote what I wrote five years ago...
The fixed-dollar-amount "debt ceiling" is a platform for political grandstanding, not a ceiling that carries any meaningful financial significance. Ten years ago, it was the Republicans who played political chicken with the president by placing our nation’s creditworthiness at risk. This year, will it be the Democrats . . . or possibly a few Republicans who covet the political label "fiscally responsible"?
I don’t know about you, but this particular political game is one of the few I cannot stomach. It doesn’t matter which political party is threatening to force the USA into default on its Treasury securities. I do not find it funny, cunning, or cute; I find it infuriating. (How ironic it is when politicians force our nation to the brink of bankruptcy—to earn the label "fiscally responsible." I bet Alexander Hamilton spins in his grave every time this comes up.)
(Here's the link to that article ...and please don't get hung up on my 80% number, because that stake-in-the-ground is five years old; we have a bit more information available to us now.)
I've watched this political game play out for the better part of four decades, and you know what: it's way past time for the headline-seekers, on both sides, to stop playing chicken with our nation's creditworthiness -- and start spending more time doing things that would help GROW THE ECONOMY.
[Hmmm, that triggers a related thought... I wonder what percentage of the 535 Capitol Hill politicians are sufficiently proficient in grammar-school arithmetic to understand that a brand new way to stay under any given ratio of debt-to-GDP is to grow the DENOMINATOR faster than the NUMERATOR? My guess: of the 30% who understand what a "denominator" is, half of them get it; what's your guess?]