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Following up President Trump’s surprising deal with Congressional Democrats to suspend the U.S. government’s statutory debt ceiling through December 15, 2017 as part of providing funding to support hurricane damage relief in Texas, Louisiana and Florida, President Trump also appears to have reached a “gentleman’s agreement” to permanently eliminate the statutory debt ceiling altogether.
Damian Paletta and Ashley Parker of the Washington Post relate the story of how President Trump and congressional Democrats have agreed to a develop a plan to repeal the national debt ceiling:
President Trump and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) have agreed to pursue a deal that would permanently remove the requirement that Congress repeatedly raise the debt ceiling, three people familiar with the decision said.
Trump and Schumer discussed the idea Wednesday during an Oval Office meeting. The two, along with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D–Calif.), agreed to work together over the next several months to try to finalize a plan, which would need to be approved by Congress.
As they say, the devil will be in the details, but this action could represent a positive step toward achieving greater fiscal discipline on the federal government if automatic changes in the national debt ceiling would only be permitted if federal spending is approved through annual budget legislation passed by the U.S. Congress as part of regular order.
That process would be very different from the type of spending that the U.S Congress has appropriated in recent years, much of which has come about through the rushed passage of back room deals with minimal oversight and even less serious consideration through continuing resolutions.
If the members of the U.S. Congress want to continue that uncontrolled state of fiscal affairs, then they should expect to have to also have to face a separate vote on raising the national debt ceiling to accommodate it every time they do, with their irregular spending put on hold until they do.
That kind of political unpleasantry could be avoided if they follow regular order in adopting a budget for the U.S. government, which provides for greater transparency and oversight, where the government’s statutory debt ceiling would be automatically adjusted when the U.S. Congress follows its own rules for passing a budget.