Top economist tells Bill Moyers: ‘The debt ceiling should be eliminated’
According to Moyers & Company host Bill Moyers, financial commentator Martin Wolf has described the U.S. debt ceiling as a nuclear bomb the country has aimed at itself — and one that should be eliminated.
“My own view is that the debt ceiling should be eliminated,” Wolf explained to Moyers on this week’s episode. “It’s a very strange law. It’s not constitutional, it’s not a constitutional requirement. And it obliges, if it’s imposed and if it’s actually not lifted, it obliges the president to break the law.”
Wolf, the chief commentator for Financial Times, did point out that though many financial analysts did not seriously think the country would go into financial default, seeing some lawmakers openly shrug off the potential damage incurred by letting it happen did concern him.
“If a lot of people really think like that as opposed to saying it in order to be more effective bargainers, because it’s obviously an effective bargaining technique, then they might actually live up to it,” “Maybe this time at last they will actually let the bomb go off. It’s like crying wolf. In the end, well, there was a wolf.”
Moyers then posited a scenario in which President Barack Obama would have to authorize a loan for the country without the benefit of Congress raising the debt ceiling again when the current agreement expires in early 2014.
“But if he does so without congressional approval, aren’t we facing a constitutional crisis?” Moyers asked, to which Wolf responded that Obama would be faced with three equally bad options: to keep the country borrowing, to cut domestic spending and risk another recession, or send the country into default.
“If this then ends up in a quasi-judicial process, an impeachment or something of this kind when we’re just sort of getting out of the big post crisis malaise, yes, I think it would, could be potentially catastrophic,” Wolf explained. “One never knows, but it would certainly be very bad for the reputation of the United States.”
Watch the full interview, aired on Moyers & Company on Friday, below.