House leadership offers short-term debt limit deal

Everyone look away: Nobody can see the debt limit until May 19. 

On the negative side, this is another short-term fix that will expire in four months, adding another "date of doom" to the calendar. But on the plus side —wow— who expected the House leadership to offer to "suspend" the debt limit? Yes, the debt limit is a creature of Congress, and Congress may, if it chooses, sort of pretend it doesn’t exist. That’s what they’re doing. 

The House proposal would suspend the debt ceiling until May 19, which will allow the U.S. to continue to borrow to meet financial obligations without requiring Congress to vote on raising the debt ceiling. But to be clear, the bill does actually increase the debt limit by an amount to be determined later. The increase can then be tied to a specific date, presumably the date they reach agreement, without Congress having to vote to make it so. Transparent? No. But less excruciating? Definitely. All your blogger can say is, wow.

Legislation to effect the House leadership proposal, H.R. 325, will be brought to the House today (Wednesday, January 23, 2013).

There is one additional condition, however. The (majority Republican) House of Representatives has complained that the (majority Democratic) Senate has not produced its own budget in four years (although Senate Democrats are quick to point out that the Senate did pass the Budget Control Act, which sets overall spending ceilings, which is the primary function of a budget). If the House and Senate fail to produce separate budgets by April 15, members’ salaries would be escrowed until the budgets appear. 

Speaking of dates of doom, H.R. 325 will neither affect the process nor alter the effective date of the sequester: March 1. The current continuing resolution which funds the government lasts through March 27. And we all know that the Ides of March will fall between those two dates.