Daily Dose: Every Debt Ceiling Has a Silver Lining

Is there anything good about the debt ceiling mess that we’re in? Maybe, according to Paul Light, professor of public service at NYU. Light recently suggested that reorganizing the federal government could save us up to $1 trillion dollars. The Washington Post‘s Joe Davidson summarizes his recommendations below:

Light suggests, among other things, cutting the number of presidential appointees and mid-level and senior federal managers by one-third. He also wants to freeze hiring of senior and mid-level managers.

Light’s other suggestions:

— Make sure the government gets all the money it’s already due, from such things as erroneous or fraudulent payments to contractors and beneficiaries, unpaid loans, fees and taxes.

— Eliminate duplication by consolidating overlapping programs.

— Strengthen federal productivity.

— Stop “automatic time-on-the-job pay increases.”

— Cut 500,000 contract workers.

NYU’s Paul Light: Reorganize government to save money

It remains to be seen whether the debt crisis will be compelling enough to trigger a major government reorganization. A crisis is rarely a good thing, but maybe a big shake-up is exactly what we need. What do you think of Light’s suggestions? Will they really save $1 trillion?


“Daily Dose of the Washington Post” is a blog series created by GovLoop in partnership with The Washington Post. If you see great a story in the Post and want to ask a question around it, please send it to [email protected].

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Chris Poirier

It’s so sad to think that solving this economic mess could be as “simple” as re-enforcing accounting oversight, pay for performance, and government reorganization. Granted this is a pipedream in today’s political environment, it is a novel concept to consider…

…who is John Galt?

Sam Allgood

It might help to have a debt ceiling with some meaning. They are pretty useless given that we just raise them every time we reach the ceiling. Government living by the laws they pass … now there’s a novel idea!

T.G. O'Neill

After Checking out the 14th amendment, I think I might go along with the debt ceiling itself being unconstitutional. I congress appropriated the funds, paying the funds must be allowed, apparently.

Chris Poirier

@O’Neill – I think it’s clear our founding fathers never intended for a system where debt could end up being so high. Even understanding the fact that we were literally formed as a nation directly into debt over the cost of the revolution, we quickly paid our debts and moved the country in to the black before considering expansion of government, etc in any way.

To that end, I agree that it seems some what insane we can simple have a vote and increase the debt moving ourselves out of default..even though we STILL owe the money and are massively in debt. Moving that goal post further out only stands to weaken the republic rather then embolden it.

T.G. O'Neill

@poirier – I meant the current debt ceiling, as all the others before it, is unconstitutional, according to the 14th. Whoever came up with the idea that there was a finite ‘debt ceiling’ had not understood the 14th amendment. However, until we get a Supreme Court ruling, no one really knows. I think that if the current negotiations totally fail, Wall Street will get someone to ask the Supreme Court that very question.

Without a debt ceiling, the result is that whatever congress funds, the USA is on the hook for, and congress could spend and spend and spend (which the congress of 2003 certainly did – that was the year that really nailed us). Maybe whoever invented the debt ceiling was just trying to keep congress from spending so much all the time.