Tuesday, January 08, 2013

And It's Not About The Debt Anyway

What makes Nancy Pelosi’s 14th Amendment argument totally stupid, in addition to the facts that the amendment is not about payment of the debt and that it does not give the President permission to violate the law, is that the whole debt ceiling issue is not about debt default in any case.

The only demand on our debt is the maturity of bonds issued by our government, which have to be paid off to the bond holder. When that happens, we issue new bonds to replace them, an operation which is called a “rollover” of the debt. Since the newly-issued bonds are equal in value to the ones paid off, the national debt is not increased, and so the debt ceiling limit is not an issue.

The debt ceiling is about paying for ongoing government operation, such as paying salaries of government workers, paying on military contracts, paying farmers on farm subsidies, etc. If the debt ceiling is not increased about half, plus or minus, of those payments will not be able to be made and those operations will have to be curtailed.

No one can question, I think, that whatever the 14th Amendment says, it does not say that the government must be allowed to borrow unlimited amounts of money to pay for ongoing operations.

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