My Modest Proposal to Solve the Debt Ceiling Fight

| Fri Jan. 18, 2013 11:07 AM EST

National Journal reports:

Republicans appear to be willing to avoid a showdown over the debt limit and instead use the sequester as their main negotiating lever in upcoming fiscal fights with the White House and Senate Democrats.

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said Republicans at a closed-door retreat in Williamsburg were weighing a short-term increase in the country’s borrowing limit, giving all sides time to work on a broader fiscal plan in March that would include substantial spending cuts.

I'm not a conservative, so I can't pretend to have their best interests at heart. But it sure seems to me that their best bet right now is to unpaint themselves from their corner and make sure they never go back. The last thing they should do is approve a short-term increase in the debt ceiling and then have this same, self-defeating argument all over again in March.

Here's my suggestion: pass a law that gives the president the ability to raise the debt ceiling on his own, but put some limits on it. Every month the Treasury has to release a statement showing how much we've spent, how much tax revenue we took in, projected bond sales over the next month, and the amount the debt ceiling needs to be increased. The statement has to be signed by the president of the United States.

This gets Republicans off the hook from ever having to play a hostage game they can't win, but it forces the president to put his name to a monthly statement showing just how rapidly he's building up debt and turning America into the next Greece. It would be harmless campaign fodder for 2014 (good for Republicans), and would also prevent any further market-panicking showdowns (also good for Republicans). As a bonus, it would also be good for the country. What's not to like?