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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

Love minus zero, no limit

Finally one of them says in public what they all think in private:

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said Friday that Congress should stop placing legal limits on the amount of money the government can borrow and effectively lift the debt limit to infinity.

On Bloomberg TV, “Political Capital” host Al Hunt asked Geithner if he believes “we ought to just eliminate the debt ceiling.”

“Oh, absolutely,” Geithner said.

[. . .]

Geithner’s Treasury Department quietly warned at the end of October that the Treasury would reach current legal limit on the federal government's debt by about the end of the year.

In August 2011, President Barack Obama and Congress agreed to lift the legal debt limit by another $2.4 trillion--allowing the government to borrow up to $16.394 trillion. However, as of the close of business on Thursday, the Treasury had only $154.3 billion of that $2.4 trillion in new borrowing authority left.

Of course Geitner is quite right that a debt ceiling that's raised every time it's approached in no debt ceiling at all. It's a game of "let's pretend." But he's dead wrong that the ceiling is merely a modern "tool for political advantage" and therefore "not a tenable strategy. It is also a recognition that escalating debt levels are not sustainable. Awareness, alas, is not the same thing as "the wisdom and courage to act."

"Debt limit to infinity." Good name for a punk band, huh?