Not the least of the national debt’s many vices is that it’s blatantly unconstitutional. From Andrew P. Napolitano at lewrockwell.com:
Earlier this week, President Joseph R. Biden Jr. asked Congress to raise taxes and increase borrowing so his administration can spend $2.3 trillion — on top of the $1.9 trillion Congress authorized two months ago for so-called COVID relief — for thousands of projects he calls “infrastructure.” All this is in addition to the $2 trillion that the government borrows annually these days just to make ends meet.
These are serious numbers of dollars, the repayment of which will have seriously unpleasant consequences for future generations of Americans. Indeed, under Biden’s administration, the feds will borrow three times what they collect in taxes. This is not a new phenomenon, but it exacerbates the modern trend of spend now and pay later.
Under the Constitution, can the feds borrow as much as they want and can they spend it on anything they want? Here is the backstory.
When James Madison and his colleagues wrote the Constitution, they addressed the problem of debt. They knew governments borrow vast amounts of money to address emergencies, usually wars — as the 13 colonies had just done. When Madison and his colleagues were deciding upon the powers of the new federal government, they included the power to borrow money but excluded the power to create and operate a bank.
Madison understood that the Constitution limited the power of Congress to spend monies — whether obtained by taxes or debt — to the 17 discrete areas of governance delegated to the federal government in the Constitution.