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The debt limit is a symptom. Congress needs to treat the illness.

Sep 20, 2021 by AFP

Congress and the White House are struggling to come up with a plan to address the impending breach of the debt limit.

But as Kurt Couchman, senior fellow for fiscal policy at Americans for Prosperity, writes in a new op-ed in The Hill, the debt limit is not so much a problem in itself as the symptom of a much larger problem.

While it’s necessary to treat the symptom to avoid the immediate repercussions, until lawmakers “cure the underlying illness, this aggravating symptom will keep gnawing at us.”

Recurring confrontations over the debt limit reflect Congress’ refusal to budget rationally and its insistence on spending irresponsibly,” Couchman writes.

The way to do that, he argues, is to address the growth of the federal debt with reforms that get to the heart of the government’s fiscal challenges.

The short-term solutions now on the table won’t do the trick.

What’s needed are bipartisan, intermediate-term fixes such as the TRUST Act, which would create bipartisan commissions to come up with plans to keep programs such as Social Security, Medicare, and the Highway Trust Fund solvent.

Other options include automatic continuing resolutions that prevent government shutdowns and provide incentives for timely completion of the appropriations process.

Longer-term solutions include unified budgeting that includes all spending and revenue in a single bill, and establishing balance over the business cycle to stabilize and eventually reduce debt-to-GDP ratio.

Couchman expands on these proposals in The Hill.

Click here to read Kurt Couchman's op-ed on raising the debt limit while starting to fix the budget.