cross-posted from the Pennsylvania Tenth Amendment Center
Until the debt ceiling was established in 1917, congress had to separately approve every new debt that the government took on. The debt ceiling was established to make it faster and easier for the treasury department to borrow money during WWI. Predictably, the war ended, but the treasury department’s expanded power didn’t. When peace time came, the congress never reclaimed it’s Constitutional role for managing the U.S. debt.
Now, 94 years and 14 trillion dollars later, we’re periodically treated to this theatrical performance where the party in power threatens catastrophe if the debt ceiling isn’t raised and the minority party claims the mantle of fiscal responsibility in order to score political points for the next election.
This year, the Republicans get their turn claiming to be the thrifty ones, but it wasn’t that way five years ago. In 2006, Senate Majority leader Harry Reid said,
How can the Republican majority in this Congress explain to their constituents that trillions of dollars in new debt is good for our economy? How can they explain that they think it’s fair to force our children, our grandchildren, our great grandchildren to finance this debt through higher taxes. That’s what it will have to be. Why is it right to increase our nation’s dependence on foreign creditors?
After the 2006 elections, in her iconic “One Hundred Hours” essay in the Huffington Post, house Democrat Speaker to-be, Nancy Pelosi wrote,Details