When Debt-Ceiling Politics Was BipartisanRoundup: Historians' Take
tags: debt ceiling
President Barack Obama is hardly the first president forced to play debt-ceiling politics.
The debt ceiling is a cap on the amount of total debt the U.S. government can incur to pay the country’s bills. Before the 20th century, there was no ceiling on the total amount of debt. Instead, Congress set limits on the amount of debt the Treasury could borrow for discrete purposes: a war or a public-works project. Congress also set limits on the kinds of debt the Treasury could issue for any given purpose (for example, short-term borrowing versus long-term bonds).
Whenever the Treasury exceeded the statutory limit for borrowing connected to specific spending, Congress had to vote to raise the limit. As government grew and became more complicated, the bond issues multiplied, and the votes became more frequent and nettlesome. The ad-hoc approach to debt was, in many people’s eyes, becoming impractical....
comments powered by Disqus
- Ken Burns argues that Vietnam is to blame for much of our current alienation and polarization
- Ilan Pappe says Israel Is Not a Democracy
- Drew Gilpin Faust discusses free speech in Harvard commencement address (video)
- Military Journalist Calls on General McMaster to Step Down—And Let Trump Be Trump
- Historian David Kaiser says the most exciting day of his life was JFK’s election