Friday, 01 Mar 2024

The debt ceiling is an awkward place to talk about spending


The debt ceiling is an awkward place to talk about spending

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The debt ceiling snafu, which has the potential to wreck the US economy, is a civics lesson in the bizarrely inefficient way the American government spends your money.

Here's the broadest outline of how members of Congress oversee trillions in tax dollars each year and the borrowing of money to make up for the annual shortfall:

The debt ceiling, the subject of the current drama consuming the nation's capital, is something else entirely.

While legally separate from the budget process, it represents yet another check that has evolved into the system since a version of the debt ceiling was first adopted in the run-up to World War I.

The Treasury Department has been given gradually more leeway by Congress over how to finance deficit spending, be it for wars, emergencies or the creation of the social safety net.

While the size of that debt has exploded, the government guarantee behind it represents the solid backbone of the US financial system.

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