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Debt Ceiling Politics

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Author: D'Alessio, Christopher E.
Advisor: Evans, C. Lawrence, 1958-
Committee Members: Gilmour, John B.; Mapp, Paul W.
Issued Date: 7/18/2012
Subjects: Debt Ceiling
Tea Party
National Debt
Divided Government
Party Polarization
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10288/16788
Description: Since the 1950s, the need to raise the debt ceiling, the statutory limit to the borrowing authority of the federal government, has created highly contentious votes in Congress. In some cases, full blown debt ceiling crisis has resulted, in which default appeared a distinct possibility. This paper attempts to explain why periodic debt ceiling crises take place. It concludes that debt ceiling crises are the product of increased national debt and more frequent instances of divided government, coupled with heightened levels of partisanship and party polarization in the post-1950 period. These conclusions are supplemented by case studies of three debt ceiling crises: 1985, 1995-1996, and the summer of 2011.
Degree: Bachelors of Arts in Government

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