Congress' answer to the debt ceiling crisis: Ignore it

The huge budget and spending deal that is poised to pass this week shows that Congress' preferred method for dealing with the debt ceiling is to pretend it doesn't exist.

In past decades, Congress would raise the debt ceiling to some new, higher number, which would allow Congress to spend money until it hit that new level.

But for the last few fiscal crises, Congress has leaned on the idea of "suspending" the debt ceiling. That method allows Congress to keep borrowing and spending until a certain date.

When that date arrives, the new debt ceiling becomes whatever old debt existed plus any new debt that was accrued during the suspension.

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