Professor Anita Krishnakumar‘s article, In Defense of the Debt Limit Statute, was quoted yesterday in the Washington Post op-ed, We Need a Debt Limit Do-Over. The author, Chuck Lane, stated: “As Anita Krishnakumar showed in a 2005 article for the Harvard Journal on Legislation, the U.S. government was small and generally went into debt only to pay for wars, or when recession temporarily dried up tax revenue.”
Following is an abstract of Professor Krishnakumar’s article:
The debt limit statute is a critical feature of the federal budget process and prompts frequent legislation to increase the government’s borrowing authority. In this Article, Professor Anita S. Krishnakumar examines the history of the debt limit statute as well as its function in the fiscal constitution. The Article deconstructs several popular criticisms of the debt limit statute, arguing that the criticisms exaggerate and that the statute in fact serves two important roles: first, the statute is the last remnant of congressional control and accountability over the national debt; second, it acts as an important institutional check on party and interest group politics. The Article ends by suggesting several reforms to the existing debt statute framework, aimed at increasing congressional accountability for the debt consequences of federal spending and taxing choices, as well as at curbing some of the dangers associated with the current framework.