Project SyndicateProject Syndicate

Debt and dysfunction in America

By Michael R. Strain

12 May 2023 · 4 min read

Editor's Note

The U.S. may default due to a Republican refusal to raise the country’s borrowing limit. This corrosion of political norms "could unleash an economic disaster," writes Michael R. Strain in PS.

WASHINGTON, DC – Is American politics so dysfunctional that the United States government can’t even pay its bills on time? That is the central question behind the latest debt-ceiling drama playing out in Washington. So far, efforts to increase the country’s borrowing limit suggest the answer could very well be yes.

The first sign of dysfunction is that elected officials have only just started talking to each other. The US is barreling toward a catastrophic default next month, and yet President Joe Biden, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, and other congressional leaders did not meet to discuss the situation until May 9, and a second meeting, set for May 12, was postponed.

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