Here they are:
- Raising the debt ceiling does not authorize one single penny in additional public spending.
- For Congress to "decide whether" to raise the debt ceiling, for programs and tax rates it has already voted into law, makes exactly as much sense as it would for a family to "decide whether" to pay a credit-card bill for goods it has already bought.
That is all.
[This is redundant and painfully obvious to anyone who has actually thought for two minutes about spending, budgets, deficits, and debt. But one of our political parties plus much of our commentariat is acting as if this were not so.]
Offered as a public service.
For political-spectacle reasons, I'm sorry that we're apparently not going to have further discussions about a new trillion-dollar platinum coin -- shown in one imaginative depiction here. But nothing about the magic coin is less logical, or exposes America to more ridicule, than the debt-ceiling showdown we're apparently about to endure once again.
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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. He and his wife, Deborah Fallows, are the authors of the new book Our Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey Into the Heart of America, which has been a New York Times best-seller and is the basis of a forthcoming HBO documentary.