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Of those surveyed, 41 percent say Congress should not raise the debt ceiling

Hasn't Congress already approved the current tax rates and all spending? And if they know arithmetic, they will know what the shortfall is?
So why is there a separate vote on saying "oh, and we realise we're short by this much, but we're good for it"?

"Debt" is a scary word. (Cue Carlin or someone.)


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sapere aude

by Number 6 on Fri Jan 11th, 2013 at 08:11:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Woodrow Wilson needed to reassure the public that American entry into WWI would be inexpensive.

The debt ceiling has always, since the very day it was cooked up, been a policy of bad faith.

- Jake

If you only spend 20 minutes of the rest of your life on economics, go spend them here.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Jan 11th, 2013 at 11:02:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The US constitution was written on the assumption that the budget Congress approves is an authorization for a maximum, not a mandate to spend. Under such conditions a debt ceiling makes sense.
by oliver on Sun Jan 13th, 2013 at 04:14:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Interesting comment which I have not seen elsewhere. Is there any evidence to support this interpretation?

It seems to me, then, to be bad faith if Congress approves a budget with an inbuilt $1.3  deficit (2012) and then denies the President the means of funding it, and also denies him the discretion not to implement it fully. (The House is currently suing the President for not implement DOMA fully, and SCOTUS has also ruled that line item vetos of bills are unconstitutional i.e. partial implementation).

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot dotty communists) on Sun Jan 13th, 2013 at 05:04:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The US budget process involves separate "authorization" and "appropriation" steps. Every year, for every budget item.
In general, funds for federal government programs must be authorized by an "authorizing committee" through enactment of legislation. Then, through subsequent acts by Congress, budget authority is then appropriated by the Appropriations Committee of the House. In principle, committees with jurisdiction to authorize programs make policy decisions, while the Appropriations Committees decide on funding levels, limited to a program's authorized funding level, though the amount may be any amount less than the limit.

In practice, the separation between policy making and funding, and the division between appropriations and authorization activities are imperfect. Authorizations for many programs have long lapsed, yet still receive appropriated amounts. Other programs that are authorized receive no funds at all.[citation needed] In addition, policy language--that is legislative text changing permanent law--is included in appropriation measures.

I don't know whether that's a Constitutional requirement as Oliver implies.

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Jan 13th, 2013 at 05:29:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The fact that the US "Budget" is not one coherent document and plan but a series of authorizations and appropriations certainly does not help the process. But as I understand it, if appropriations exceed revenues by $1.3 Trillion (and are known to do so) then the whole process is nonsensical - or in bad faith - if a funding mechanism (debt ceiling increase) is not also put in place - as was always the case until Obama got into power.

Otherwise the Republican congress can claim it authorized and appropriated for (say) medicaid, but Obama wouldn't implement it - and then sure him for not doing so. What if Obama (say) rather than cutting Medicaid cut military spending dramatically, withdrew from Afghanistan immediately, closed Guantanamo and all private prisons and let the prisoners go fee because there was nowhere to house them - do you think the House wouldn't impeach him? And yet he can claim they refused to fund those programs.

This could be fun. How quickly would the House cave on the debt ceiling then - or at least provide a specifically targeted funded mechanism for those expenditures?

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot dotty communists) on Sun Jan 13th, 2013 at 05:57:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is a state of affairs in place only since 1974 and put in place by this law:

http://uscode.house.gov/download/pls/02C17B.txt

The Supreme Court further complicated matters in Train vs. New York, reversing 170 years of previous practice. It kept in check Richard Nixon, but still it did violence to the original system as laid down in the constitution.

The overall result makes no sense.

by oliver on Sun Jan 13th, 2013 at 09:53:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The US Constitution was also written in the late 18th century. Are we to deduce from it that the gold standard is constitutionally mandated?

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Jan 13th, 2013 at 05:34:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The US constitution merely states that the states must not introduce a fiat currency.
by oliver on Sun Jan 13th, 2013 at 10:05:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The US constitution was written on the assumption that the budget Congress approves is an authorization for a maximum, not a mandate to spend.

That is wrong, or at least irrelevant, per Nixon's experiment with unilaterally underspending.

Under such conditions a debt ceiling makes sense.

There's no constitutional basis for a debt ceiling. It was a purely symbolic act of Congress, to provide fake reassurance for the public that the first world war would be fought on the cheap.

- Jake

If you only spend 20 minutes of the rest of your life on economics, go spend them here.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Jan 13th, 2013 at 07:31:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, I was going to say that. What Congress has approved, the President must spend.

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sapere aude
by Number 6 on Mon Jan 14th, 2013 at 05:07:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But presumably the President can't spend money he hasn't got - so does NOT spending (say) all the military budget duly appropriated constitute a default?  Clearly if he didn't pay defense contractors, it could be construed as a default. But if he closed German military bases, Guantanamo, withdrew early from Afghanistan, didn't renew contracts for private prison operators and defense contractors etc. that is hardly a default as such - but would make Republican heads explode.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot dotty communists) on Mon Jan 14th, 2013 at 09:24:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974

[...] the President may propose to Congress that funds be rescinded. If both the Senate and the House of Representatives have not approved a rescission proposal (by passing legislation) within 45 days of continuous session, any funds being withheld must be made available for obligation. Congress is not required to vote on such a proposal and has ignored most Presidential requests. [...] The Act was passed in response to Congressional feelings that President Nixon was abusing his ability to impound the funding of programs he opposed, and effectively removed the historical Presidential power of impoundment.

I think you are correct: the president can make changes, but cannot deliberately "starve" programs he doesn't like.

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sapere aude

by Number 6 on Mon Jan 14th, 2013 at 09:35:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd like to see Republicans sue the President for (say) withdrawing early from Afghanistan or closing Guantanamo because he can't fund it and at the same time refuse him authority to borrow money to fund it...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot dotty communists) on Mon Jan 14th, 2013 at 09:39:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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