Showing posts from August, 2011

Writing a Debt Ceiling into the Constitution is Pointless

Recent proposals from the French and German governments on dealing with the Euro debt crisis are interesting. But writing debt ceilings into national constitutions is a bad idea. Countries that have constitutions generally use them to specify the relationships between the state institutions, details of how the democracy works, the rights of individuals, and the limits of state’s power. Very few constitutions anywhere go into specific details about state finances. Constitutions set out basic principles and ideals. The grubby business of politics is left to fill in the details. How money is raised and spent is a policy issue and is largely left to the governments that the people elected. It is not a constitutional issue. The Constitution of Ireland goes into great detail to specify how laws are passed and the role of both the lower and upper houses in passing these laws. However it treats finances differently. There’s a section of the Constitution called “Money Bills” containing Article