How to Think About the Gang of Six and the Debt Ceiling

More

The new Gang of Six plan, which reportedly saves $4 trillion in the next ten years, might be a great plan, an unworkable plan, or even both. But it has nothing to do with raising the debt ceiling, which we can do at any time, with or without complicated changes to tax expenditures, and which we must do before the end of this week.

A ten-year budget, like the Gang of Six has been hammering out for the last six months, answers an important question: How should we deal with our 10-year debt burden? But that's not the question facing lawmakers this week, which is Should we default on our debt? We should not default on our debt. We should pass a long-term budget. And we should act in that order.

As Congress refuses to pay its old debt until it gets very specific promises about future spending, it's worth remembering how bizarre this conversation would sound if it were held any place except Washington. Like, say, a restaurant:

"How much are we going to leave as tip for this meal?"
"I want ice cream after this."
"Okay, but what are we tipping?"
"Chocolate. With sprinkles."
"Yes, but first the tip..."
"Waffle cone, or sugar."


Jump to comments
Presented by

Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Why Are Americans So Bad at Saving Money?

The US is particularly miserable at putting aside money for the future. Should we blame our paychecks or our psychology?


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

The Death of Film

You'll never hear the whirring sound of a projector again.

Video

How to Hunt With Poison Darts

A Borneo hunter explains one of his tribe's oldest customs: the art of the blowpipe

Video

A Delightful, Pixar-Inspired Cartoon

An action figure and his reluctant sidekick trek across a kitchen in search of treasure.

Video

I Am an Undocumented Immigrant

"I look like a typical young American."

Video

Why Did I Study Physics?

Using hand-drawn cartoons to explain an academic passion

Writers

Up
Down

More in Business

Just In