A somewhat contrarian view on the upcoming debt ceiling debate:
Instead of political grandstanding around a redundant, made-up number, we should spend that valuable time debating how best to achieve robust growth given our current economic condition. The proper debate would be lively. Contemporary Keynesians advocate top-down, “intelligent design” economics — i.e., trusting government officials, regulations, and spending to foster higher consumer demand for familiar goods, services, and job skills. The Reagan Republicans, on the other hand, advocate evolutionary economics (a.k.a. “complexity” and “emergence”): enabling and trusting the private sector to evolve in favorable new directions through innovation of better goods and services, which require more-advanced job skills.
I think he’s mostly right on framing the debate. Even the question of the size and scope of government can be directly tied to encouraging economic growth, and it’s a positive, rather than a negative message, too. But I think he’s wrong about the political mechanics. Negotiations only make sense when you have something to negotiation with, and despite Obama’s big talk about “not playing that game again” and “not havin’ that debate again,” he won’t have much choice, if pressed. And then again, with Harry Reid evidently bound and determined to continue abdicating his budgetary responsibilities, the debt ceiling may well be the only power of the purse that the current Congress has left.