The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion Before the debt ceiling is lifted, Congress must pose this question

The Treasury Department's Bureau of Engraving and Printing building on Aug. 11 in D.C. (Sarah Silbiger for The Washington Post)

Before the debt ceiling is lifted, which it must be, Congress must dare to at least pose a question.

In much of Peter Orszag’s Nov. 22 op-ed, “GOP threats to weaponize the debt limit are dangerous,” one can agree with his conclusion, but when he mentioned, “The evolution of debt is also influenced by the economy, market interest rates and other factors, but those are mostly outside the control of policymakers,” he omitted vital aspects. Let me explain it with a question:

What would the United States’ public debt be in the absence of regulatory subsidies, such as bank capital requirements with decreed risk weights of zero percent against federal government debts and 100 percent against citizens’ debts; copious amounts of Treasury purchases by the Fed with quantitative easing programs; and the preaching by modern monetary theory fans that has definitely promoted a dangerous lackadaisical attitude when discussing the limits of public debt?

Yes, Congress must approve increasing the debt level. It’s too late to do otherwise, but to do so without even trying to answer that question would be to irresponsibly kick the debt can forward and upward with disastrous consequences.

And, by the way, the Supreme Court should look at what the Founding Fathers might have thought about the aforementioned risk weights.

Per Kurowski, Rockville