In Defense of the Debt Limit Statute

53 Pages Posted: 30 Apr 2007


The debt limit statute is a critical feature of the federal budget process and prompts frequent legislation to increase the government's borrowing authority. In this Article, Professor Anita S. Krishnakumar examines the history of the debt limit statute as well as its function in the fiscal constitution. The Article deconstructs several popular criticisms of the debt limit statute, arguing that the criticisms exaggerate and that the statute in fact serves two important roles: first, the statute is the last remnant of congressional control and accountability over the national debt; second, it acts as an important institutional check on party and interest group politics. The Article ends by suggesting several reforms to the existing debt statute framework, aimed at increasing congressional accountability for the debt consequences of federal spending and taxing choices, as well as at curbing some of the dangers associated with the current framework.

Suggested Citation

Krishnakumar, Anita S., In Defense of the Debt Limit Statute. Harvard Journal on Legislation, Vol. 42, p. 135, 2005; St. John's Legal Studies Research Paper No. 00-71. Available at SSRN:

Anita S. Krishnakumar (Contact Author)

St. John's University - School of Law ( email )

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