#039–What is this “debt ceiling” thing I keep reading about?

(Image by Bob Englehart from 2011 that I like)

Okay, I have been too busy trying to catch up on sleep and working every hour I can get my hands on, but I’ve seen enough that shows people frustrated on both sides. Democrats and Republicans are seemingly annoyed and I can’t quite understand why–I have missed a lot, but what keeps popping out of the feed is the phrase “debt ceiling.”

What the hell is that supposed to mean? What is the debt ceiling?

Now, there are a few interesting tidbits from the media that are trying to educate about the debt ceiling–at least in part–but I’ve never heard of that phrase before, so I have no frame of reference. Nothing I can find gives a good description of what it is and how it’s supposed to work.

At first, I thought that it was a cap on the amount of national debt we can accrue. I thought there was no limit to that sort of thing after decades of war and such that took a surplus and threw it in the toilet.

Okay, I also consulted the Oracles of Schoolhouse Rock–not as helpful as I thought, but nice bop-a-long tune.

So, this phrase debt ceiling has confused me. From what I’m getting, it’s a cap on the amount we can borrow from other nations.

Okay…again, I’m confused, because we’re in debt to so many nations for so much. What was the cap to begin with?

That’s why I’m so confused. I thought we’d just borrow, borrow, borrow.

That’s all we’ve been doing so damned long.

And so, it looks like the debt ceiling is like a college student that gets close to maxing out their first credit card, so they apply for another one and start spending on it. They pay a trifling amount on each, then when they run it up again, get another credit card.

I say that because according to an infograph on wikipedia (I can’t believe I used ’em, but I was desperate), it seems the ceiling’s been increased dozens of times, “74 times since March 1962,” and who knows how many before that?

I just wonder, if it’s so seemingly useless, if the kid with the credit card has no brakes put on them, no control, why bother? It’s like spending without a budget at all.

At least, that’s what I’m getting from the little news I’ve been able to find.

And if it’s so useless, what is going on that’s causing so much annoyance, anger, and upset…or is this actually the peripheral issue and there’s a bigger one that this happens to be a part of.

I’m trying to play catchup, but confused as hell. So what’s with this debt ceiling thing, and what’s with the anger?

Oh, I’ll keep reading, but I’m still confused. I feel like half the pages were ripped out of this story.

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