Thomas Gallatin / September 8, 2017

Just Get Rid of the Debt Ceiling?

Trump sides with Democrats again, effectively saying that the spending limit has done little to limit spending.

One of the results from Donald Trump’s decision to side with Democrats on connecting the Hurricane Harvey relief package with raising the debt ceiling was an agreement that the debt ceiling should be eliminated altogether. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee expressed Trump’s position on the issue, stating, “The president encouraged congressional leaders to find a more permanent solution to the debt ceiling so the vote is not so frequently politicized.” House Majority Leader Paul Ryan (R-WI) argued against the idea, saying, “I think the debt limit should be used to try to bring reform in Congress. I think the debt limit is a good vote to have.”

Trump’s plan isn’t good news for fiscal conservatives, but it’s not surprising news either. From an ideological perspective, Trump isn’t a fiscal conservative, and thus his stance on the debt ceiling doesn’t look good. Concerns over too much government spending and a ballooning national debt leading to an eventual crisis are real. Hence the logic behind the debt ceiling. However, practically speaking, the debt ceiling has proven to be little more than a minor speed bump, good only for providing regularly repeated moments of political grandstanding and partisan bickering threatening government shutdowns, all while spending continues and debt grows. Political theater vs. actual solutions.

Trump is clearly not an ideologue, and his frustration with Republicans over their inability to repeal ObamaCare has given him license to seek solutions across the political aisle. Practically speaking, this consideration by Trump makes sense, and it removes an obstacle for Republicans in the future. The growing debt problem most certainly needs to be addressed, but the debt ceiling has proven inadequate for the task.

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