My Modest Proposal to Solve the Debt Ceiling Fight

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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?

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Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

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