Limitations on Government Debt and Deficits in the United States
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Federal debt and deficit issues are of grave concern in the United States. Congress enforces US debt limitations pursuant to its constitutional authority to control spending and borrowing. Since 2001 Congress has modified the debt limit 14 times. State and local debt and deficit issues are equally serious. The debate is ongoing as to what reforms will effectively address these pressing concerns. On the federal level the proposed solutions include a balanced budget amendment, elimination of the debt limit altogether, and consideration of failure to pay the US debt a constitutional violation based on the “Public Debt Clause,” which, it is argued, allows violations to be justiciable, on the one hand, and focusing on growth rather than debt and deficit on the other. On the State and municipal level proposals range from relying on market mechanisms, imposing constitutional limits on debt, tying the debt threshold to annual revenue, and submitting issuance of bonds or other indebtedness to the electorate for approval. The debate continues.
KeywordsPublic Debt Voter Approval Discretionary Spending Congressional Budget Office Debt Limit
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