Many Republicans have lately insisted that they will not vote to raise the debt limit for any reason. On January 2, Council of Economic Advisers chairman Austan Goolsbee warned them that failure to raise the debt limit would do extreme harm to governmental finances. There is surprisingly little academic research on the debt limit or the consequences of failure to raise it in time to prevent a debt default. Following is a list of online resources that illuminate this issue.
D. Andrew Austin and Mindy R. Levit, “The Debt Limit: History and Recent Increases,” Congressional Research Service, Report for Congress RL31967 (September 8, 2010): link.
Josh Barro, “Debt Limit Impasse Could Drag on For Months,” Real Clear Markets (November 10, 2010): link.
Bruce Bartlett, Testimony before the Senate Finance Committee on Administration’s Request to Increase the Federal Debt Limit (February 14, 2002): link.
Ellen Bradford and Russell Constantine, “The Debt Ceiling and Executive Latitude,” Briefing Paper No. 11, Federal Budget Policy Seminar, Harvard Law School (January 2009): link.
Alan Greenspan, Testimony before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs (February 11, 2003): link.
Anita S. Krishnakumar, “In Defense of the Debt Limit Statute,” Harvard Journal on Legislation (Winter 2005): link.
Donald Marron, “The Debt Limit Is a Tax on the Majority,” blog post (January 28, 2010): link.
Brian Roseboro, Remarks to the Bond Market Association’s Inflation-Linked Securities Conference (June 26, 2003): link.
U.S. General Accounting Office, “A New Approach to the Public Debt Legislation Should Be Considered,” Report No. FGMSD-79-58 (September 7, 1979): link.
U.S. General Accounting Office, “Debt Ceiling Limitations and Treasury Actions,” Report No. GAO/AIMD-96-38R (January 26, 1996): link.
U.S. General Accounting Office, “Information on Debt Ceiling Limitations and Increases,” Report No. GAO/AIMD-96-49R (February 23, 1996): link.
U.S. General Accounting Office, “Debt Ceiling: Analysis of Actions During the 1995-1996 Crisis,” Report No. GAO/AIMD-96-130 (August 1996): link.
U.S. General Accounting Office, “Debt Ceiling: Analysis of Actions During the 2002 Debt Issuance Suspension Periods,” Report No. GAO-03-134 (December 2002): link.
U.S. General Accounting Office, “Debt Ceiling: Analysis of Actions Taken during the 2003 Debt Issuance Suspension Period,” Report No. GAO-04-526 (May 2004): link.
Bruce Bartlett is an American historian and columnist who focuses on the intersection between politics and economics. He blogs daily and writes a weekly column at The Fiscal Times. Bartlett has written for Forbes Magazine and Creators Syndicate, and his work is informed by many years in government, including as a senior policy analyst in the Reagan White House. He is the author of seven books including the New York Times best-seller, Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy (Doubleday, 2006).