That's my solution to the impending crisis over raising the legal US debt ceiling that threatens to shut down the US government, throwing us into many difficulties, and possibly crashing global financial markets if the US Treasury defaults on debt, thereby possibly throwing us back into a deep global recession. It is fear of political paralysis over raising the debt ceiling that lies behind the S&P's announcement yesterday of a downgrade to "negative" of prospects for US debt ratings, even though that remains AAA, which has in turn triggered Republicans like Eric Cantor to double down on demanding stronger budget cuts (really do in Planned Paranthood???) as the price for allowing another round of raising the debt ceiling.
As near as I can tell, I am the first person to publicly call for abolishing the debt ceiling, but there are very good reasons for doing so. The top is that the US is the only country in the world that I could find after considerable searching that even has one. Lots of googling only turned up a 2009 move in Germany to limit debt by its states, or Lander, although not on its federal government. A study by the Congressional Research Service, updated in 2008, made estimates of "debt ceilings" for many countries, but these were based on estimates of those countries' abilities to handle the interest payments of their debts, and the paper explicitly distinguished these artificially estimated debt ceilings from the "US legal debt ceiling" http://fpc.state.gov/documents.organization/105193.pdf . This study covered pretty much all of the high income OECD economies. Maybe Gambia or some other totally obscure country has a debt ceiling like the US does, but so far I have been unable to find a single one, much less any that have ever had one.
So where did it come from? The first such debt ceiling was imposed by Congress in 1917 at the time of US entry into WW I, when they passed the Second Liberty Bond Act, which allowed the US Treasury to issue long term bonds to fund the war effort. That initial debt ceiling involved several, each tied to different kinds and maturities of the US debt instruments. In 1939 these were unified into a single overall debt ceiling, which has been our system ever since. With the massive borrowing during WW II, the ceiling was raised by huge amounts each year. In more recent years, until now, the increases have usually been pro forma, with a total of 69 such increases since 1962.
So, this is something that people completely take for granted in the US, but for which there has never really been any good reason to have and now is clearly a major source of potential damage and trouble, with nothing good served at all by continuing to keep it. The irony is that it is especially ridiculous in a system of divided executive and legislative power such as we have, although that is probably why it was put in in the first place, to keep a war-fighting executive in line. In parliamentary democracies, if there is a profound dispute over budgets, there is a vote of no confidence, the government falls, there is an election, and the new one gets to deal with the mess. In ours, there is no fall of government if there is a breakdown between the branches as we seem to be heading towards, but we may get a politically caused financial collapse for which there is absolutely no good reason whatsoever, a weird gift from Mr. Madison's separation of powers.
So, I say, let us get rid of this dangerous monstrosity, the sooner the better. Abolish the US debt ceiling, and now!