January 11, 2013
Even though Republican lawmakers, Fox News pundits and conservatives at large believe the debt ceiling puts a limit on federal spending, that doesn’t make it so. The debt ceiling (or limit) is a 1917 law (part of the Second Liberty Bond Act) that gave the executive branch power to take on debt without congressional approval. So it sounds like Mitch McConnell and other Republicans are right when they say President Obama wants to do away with the debt limit so that he has the free rein to spend all he wants, right? — Wrong! Only congress can authorize new spending. However, it is up to the Treasury Department to actually pay the bills, and Treasury is part of the executive branch. And when the federal government is running a deficit, that means some bills are paid by loan (government bonds).