strain13_BRENDAN SMIALOWSKIAFP via Getty Images_bidenmccarthy Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

Debt and Dysfunction in America

The latest debt-ceiling drama playing out in Washington is more worrying than usual. Even if President Joe Biden and congressional Republicans come to terms, the economic and financial damage could be severe, especially if the world loses patience with a US political system that appears to lack adequate guardrails.

WASHINGTON, DC – Is American politics so dysfunctional that the United States government can’t even pay its bills on time? That is the central question behind the latest debt-ceiling drama playing out in Washington. So far, efforts to increase the country’s borrowing limit suggest the answer could very well be yes.

The first sign of dysfunction is that elected officials have only just started talking to each other. The US is barreling toward a catastrophic default next month, and yet President Joe Biden, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, and other congressional leaders did not meet to discuss the situation until May 9, and a second meeting, set for May 12, was postponed.

Biden’s refusal to negotiate has been another cause for concern. He wants Congress to lift the debt ceiling without any accompanying conditions, including cuts to federal spending. While Biden may be right on the merits, the US system of government does not always settle disputes based on who is right on the merits.

To continue reading, register now.

Subscribe now for unlimited access to everything PS has to offer.


As a registered user, you can enjoy more PS content every month – for free.