Again and again on the campaign trail, President Donald Trump pledged that he would “drain the swamp”. He used it as a tagline alluding to how he would fix many of the problems synonymous with the federal government. Unfortunately, there are recent signals that newly appointed Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is at risk of following the same old Washington norms—at least when it comes to the debt limit.
In an interview with Axios cofounder Mike Allen, Secretary Mnuchin said, “Everybody understands we need to raise the debt limit … and that the full faith and credit of the United States is the most important thing.” This line of thought is nothing new – in fact, former Treasury Secretary Jack Lew had a similar, if not identical, solution to the debt limit debate.
Secretary Mnuchin is correct that the faith and credit of the nation is important, and like his predecessor before him, he is not wrong to criticize the process. No one would suggest simply defaulting on payments, but continuing to kick the can down the road is also irresponsible. A quick fix is not a solution. There are credible debt limit alternatives, that are both meaningful and politically achievable solutions, if the experience of other countries is any guide.
Ignoring this debate and just constantly raising the debt ceiling – on average, we do so more than once per year – is the epitome of procrastination and will not solve our nation’s spending problems. The United States cannot continue on this path of spending without scrutiny, and with the $20 trillion debt lurking just around the corner, now is a better time than ever for reform.