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Clarity on the Debt Ceiling

David Ball

The opinions expressed in this post are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect opinions or positions held by Indivisible Northampton-Swing Left Western MA.

Kevin McCarthy won the votes to become Speaker of the House by promising far-right Republican representatives that he would not agree to raising the debt ceiling without demanding cuts in federal spending. This would hold the government hostage until they got what they wanted.


This mixes together two separate things: the debt ceiling, which must be lifted to enable the government to pay its past debts, and the budget, which is a plan for spending money in the future. Raising the debt ceiling has nothing to do with government spending: it is about protecting the country‚Äôs financial health. Refusing to lift it would mean the government could not pay federal workers, veterans, households that depend on Social Security, etc., because it could no longer borrow the funds to do so.