The new Washington Post/ABC poll depressingly demonstrates that many Americans don’t understand the debt limit. It finds almost half the country doesn’t want to raise it. From the Washington Post:

Overall, the public is split almost evenly over whether the debt ceiling should be raised, with 46 percent saying yes and 43 percent saying no. But the two parties are mirror images of each other, with 62 percent of Democrats saying it should be raised and 61 percent of Republicans saying it should not. Independents are divided, with 48 percent supporting and 46 percent opposing.

Those partisan divisions exist despite a consensus across party lines that not raising the limit would cause severe harm to the economy. On that question, 78 percent of Democrats, 73 percent of independents and 66 percent of Republicans agree that not raising the limit poses a serious threat to the economy.

Not dealing with the debt limit is simply a horrible idea. It purposely bounces checks we have already written. It would basically result in the executive branch randomly deciding what bills to pay and crash the economy, and destroy many basic government services.

Even if people want Congress to immediately reduce spending to match revenue, which would be a bad idea, the proper way to do that is with spending bills.

Politicians and the media have sadly not done a very good job explaining what the debt limit is actually about. I think part of the problem is that the unnecessary debt limit is such an idiotic procedural device it is tough for people to believe Congress would let something like that exist.

Photo by Thomas Hawk under Creative Commons license