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Monday, January 14, 2013

Bernanke to Congress: Do your job, Pay the Bills

by Calculated Risk on 1/14/2013 05:35:00 PM

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke was very clear. The "debt ceiling" is about paying the bills, not about new spending. He urged congress to do their job, raise the debt ceiling, and pay the bills. His preference was to abolish the "debt ceiling" since it is redundant.

From the WSJ: Bernanke Calls on Congress to Raise Debt Ceiling

"It’s very, very important that Congress take the necessary action to raise the debt ceiling to avoid the situation where the government doesn’t pay its bills,” said Mr. Bernanke ... “Raising the debt ceiling gives the government the ability to pay its existing bills–it doesn’t create new spending,” he said.
At another point, Bernanke said the "debt ceiling" has "symbolic value", but he prefers eliminating it. He was very clear that Congress should do their job and raise the debt ceiling.

Bernanke also expressed concern about the long run sustainability of the debt (over decades), but that we also shouldn't cut the deficit too quickly and impact the "fragile recovery". He thought the fiscal cliff deal would subtract about 1.5% from GDP this year.

CR Note: As I've noted before, the "debt ceiling" sounds virtuous, but it is really just about paying the bills. Not paying the bills is reckless and irresponsible.

By stalling, Congress is scaring people and is probably already negatively impacting the economy. Congress should do their job.  Today.  I remain confident Congress will authorize paying the bills, but this delaying is embarrassing.