What the Fuck is a Debt Ceiling?

The debt ceiling's gotta get raised or there's gonna be a shutdown! They better lower that debt ceiling or the US! The debt ceiling ate my baby! Etc.

Every couple of years there’s all this hub-bub about the debt ceiling. The debt ceiling’s gotta get raised or there’s gonna be a government shutdown! They better lower that debt ceiling or the US will go broke! The debt ceiling ate my baby. Etc.

But what the fuck IS a debt ceiling? And why does this KEEP happening? Are we stuck in some sort of recursive David Lynchian nightmare? Doomed to constantly ask ourselves “Where’s Audrey?” and “Will we fix the debt ceiling?”

Yes.  Probably. (Also –  Audrey is probably stuck in one of the Judy created multi-verses BUT I DIGRESS).

3 Major Points about the Debt Ceiling

(So You too can Sound like You know what the Fuck you are Talking About)

What is it?

The debt ceiling is literally a limit on the amount of money the federal government can borrow from the US Treasury. Our debt comes from all those projects that the government funds, like Social Security and Medicare. And as the large baby boomer population gets older and older, guess who’s using all that Social Security and Medicare? Which means that lots of money goes into these two entities. The debt also comes from “public debt” which means debt the government owes the people. If you have a US Savings Bond, and aren’t 1,000 years old, then the government owes you money from that. When you buy a Savings Bond, you are buying part of the US debt.

Important: The debt ceiling does NOT pay for new projects, it only pays off old debts. So it’s not a budget and when Congress asks for an increase, it is NOT to put towards new items.  As NBC stated:

While many people have the impression that it authorizes new government spending, raising the debt ceiling actually pays for bills that are already due.

What happens if the Debt Ceiling is Reached?

Occasionally, the Treasury will send a note over to Congress telling them they’re about to hit that ceiling (or limit) of what everyone agreed they could spend. And if they go above and beyond their means, then they go into default. Which you know all about from when you defaulted on those college loans when you were 23. Remember, you worked at that dance studio making 12 bucks an hour, while having two internships that paid nothing.

But default in this case doesn’t just mean “Hey the US is in hard times, but we’re GOOD for it. We’ll pay you back in six months PLUS interest. Just cool your jets, Money Man.”  It means something way worse. If Congress does not raise the ceiling, then all of the agencies that depend on that money in the future, don’t have any of that money. So no Social Security or Medicare gets paid. Uh oh. That’s bad news.

What the Fuck does this have to do with Republicans and Democrats?

Good. Question. It seems that every two years, there’s a major debate between Democrats and Republicans about raising the debt ceiling. Republicans don’t want to raise it. Because Republicans don’t like to have the government pay for things, and Democrats do. That’s supposed to be the major difference between Democrats and Republicans. And “a majority” of Republicans feel that defaulting wouldn’t actually be bad. Tho a majority of economists strongly disagree…

So when the Democrats or Republicans want something they hold the debt ceiling hostage. Saying things like “we won’t increase the debt ceiling until all of the abortions are illegal”. Ok that’s never been said, but you could kind of imagine it, right? And when they don’t get their way, they hold the government hostage. Which results in government shutdowns and lots of people not working or getting paid for their work. This has been happening increasingly since Republicans became the majority party in Congress. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions there.


And that people, is a basic-ass break-down of the debt ceiling. Now for more Twin Peaks break downs, you can just hit me up on Twitter or email me at Lindsey(at)thehotgoss.com.  But I’ll say this – I believe that Judy represents evil. But that evil is death. And that there is no defeating death. There is only the constant battle of living. And this is the same for the debt ceiling, everyone. It’s the same for the debt ceiling….




Lindsey Barrow