Sowell calls for dropping the debt-ceiling law

Amid the debate about raising the federal debt ceiling, Thomas Sowell‘s latest column offers an alternative idea: Scrap the debt ceiling law entirely.

Too many policies, programs, and institutions are judged by what they are supposed to do, rather than by what they actually do and the consequences of their actions. The United Nations, for example, survives as a glorious idea, despite how corrupt, counterproductive, and even dangerous its actions are.

The national-debt-ceiling law should be judged by what it actually does, not by how good an idea it seems to be. The one thing that the national-debt ceiling has never done is to put a ceiling on the rising national debt. Time and time again, for years on end, the national-debt ceiling has been raised whenever the national debt gets near whatever the current ceiling might be.

Regardless of what it is supposed to do, what the national-debt ceiling actually does is enable any administration to get all the political benefits of runaway spending for the benefit of their favorite constituencies — and then invite the opposition party to share the blame, by either raising the national-debt ceiling, or by voting for unpopular cutbacks in spending or increases in taxes.

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...

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