US debt ceiling

Historically, the US debt ceiling came into existence in 1917 when Congress surrendered authority to issue bonds to finance government debt. As slight consolation, Congress retained the right to declare the maximum magnitude of the debt, though not the right to decide on the issuance of that debt within those limits.

As such, the Debt ceiling represents a surrender of authority from the legislature to the executive. Accordingly, the consequences of the creation of the debt ceiling represent an eclipse of democracy.

It’s no coincidence that this augmentation of executive power arose in the context of total war. This surrender of legislative authority in 1917 proved to be one of the most important wellsprings of the national security state and the Military Industrial Complex.


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