The Monday Morning Teaser

In the same way that a short note sometimes turns into a long post, this week’s plan for a featured post has turned into the first of a series. Or actually the second: Now that I see the series, I recognize “The Debt Ceiling: a (p)review” as the first.

My motive is that I’m tired and depressed by the low quality of public discussion about deficits and the debt. We throw back and forth talking points about “maxxing out the national credit card” and “refusing to pay our bills” without ever thinking deeply about why we owe $32 trillion, whether a (still growing) debt that size will eventually cause any problems, and (if we decide that it is a problem) what options we have for doing something about it.

I suspect that (pending research I haven’t done yet), I’m not far from where Joe Biden is: He wants to come to some long-term agreement about fiscal policy, rather than keep governing through a series of continuing resolutions and omnibus spending bills. But he knows he can’t have that conversation while Kevin McCarthy’s finger hovers over the economy’s self-destruct button.

Anyway, today’s featured post was originally supposed to be a few paragraphs about how we accumulated this debt. But the history of the national debt turns out to be an interesting topic in its own right, providing insight into how fiscal policy has intersected with the rest of American history. (I’ll bet you didn’t know the role the San Francisco Earthquake played in the creation of the Federal Reserve.) “How did we get $32 trillion in debt?” still needs some work, so I’ll predict it shows up about 11 EST.

The weekly summary includes a discussion of police reform following Tyre Nichols’ murder (that also threatened to turn into a featured post), the House vote to kick Ilhan Omar off the Foreign Affairs Committee, the ridiculous panic over the Chinese spy balloon, January’s surprisingly strong jobs report, and a few other things. It should show up a little after noon.

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  • Anonymous  On February 6, 2023 at 9:52 am


  • Thomas Paine  On February 6, 2023 at 11:02 am

    How did we get to $32T in debt? Well, it starts with the Dubya admin’s two majors wars and massive tax cuts that blew the Clinton surplus, and really took off with Dubya’s massive securitized mortgage fraud that Congress decided to pay off instead of sinking the world’s economies into a major recession.

    Add to that a complete refusal to properly fund government spending by returning to pre-Reagan tax rates, especially on corporations; a refusal to lift Social Security caps to properly fund the single most important program; and the outrageously wasteful spending that goes into ‘defense’. All the corporate subsidies instead of relying on the ‘free market’ contribute, too.

    At every turn, these are fiscal irresponsibilities that lie completely at Republicans’ feet. The body politic now exists to be looted so that the uber-wealthy and corporations can benefit, both from paying effective lower tax rates than common labor and from all the largesse thrown their way. And this is by design. About the only person with a national platform talking about this is Bernie Sanders, with an occasional assist from Elizabeth Warren.

  • wcroth55  On February 6, 2023 at 11:25 am

    I’m recently seeing many cases where the CSS for your blog does not load. I hit “refresh”, and then it comes up. Is anyone else seeing this? It just started within the last week or so.

  • Dennis Dunnum  On February 6, 2023 at 1:30 pm

    Check out Charlie Reese’s last column for the Orlando Sentinel. It is the most simple, basic, no-frills, non partisan description of who’s responsible for the debt and everything else. Brilliant and too long to post here.

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