What is the debt ceiling, and does the United States really need one?
But some say we should keep it. In an influential article, for instance, law professor Anita Krishnakumar of St. John's University argues that there are two reasons to keep it, even if it is an anachronism. "First, the statute is the last remnant of congressional control or accountability over the national debt," rather than just annual deficits. "Second, the debt limit statute encourages legislators to consider the interest of the general public and future generations, rather than those of special interests, and thus acts as an important institutional check on party and interest group politics."
Of course, one could easily make the opposite argument: By causing the country to default on its debt, or even spooking bond markets with the possibility, Congress would create economic havoc and increase the costs of borrowing for future generations. Only one thing is certain: Whatever happens in March, future generations will pay for it.
Bloggingheads Video: Daniel Drezner and Adam Serwer Discuss the Debt Ceiling
Annie Lowrey, formerly Slate’s Moneybox columnist, is economic policy reporter for the New York Times.
Photograph of House Budget Committee ranking member Paul Ryan by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.