Debt Ceiling Shootout

Debt Ceiling Shootout

It’s sudden depth on the debt ceiling. In role-based politics, some roles are conflicted about their views—not being solid red or solid blue. Political Parrots think people in these roles are stupid. We know better. Smart people like to think for themselves. Welcome to Tiebreaker Tuesday.

Should we invoke the 14th Amendment
to avoid a US Debt Default?

Why Care?

The last time the Government shut down, it hurt the economy, meaning workers, professionals, small business owners, and the stock market. 

And this time, we may default on US debt, which is about the same as a self-inflicted gunshot wound. 

A debt default risks the dollar losing its status as the world’s reserve currency. Perhaps the stupidest thing the world’s only superpower could do to itself. 

Is there a Debt Crisis?

The US total net worth is $150T. The debt is $33T, but $7T is intergovernmental, so $25T is owed to others.

Of the $25T, about $7T is held by our foreign country trading partners (they have to put their dollars somewhere), and the remaining $18T is held by Americans wealthy enough to buy US treasury bonds and notes.

The average US household has a net worth of $750,000. The average household debt is $100,000. So that’s a $100,000 / $750,000 or 13% debt to net worth.

The US total net worth is $150T. The net US Debt is $25T.  So, that’s $25T/$150T or 17 % debt to net worth. 

Does this sound like an emergency so dire as to risk the full faith and credit of the United States of America?


This week’s political flap started with our Monday Puzzle Drop article.

You can role-play this week’s puzzle at


POLI looks at over 16 million variables for a general bias for change or status quo per puzzle, using loose ties to beliefs, attitudes, values, and ethics. Some of the 128 roles are tied between change or status quo opinions.

The PolicyKeys editors are here to break the tie in the Sudden Depth first half. Then we Call a Fowl on the roles where the editors disagreed with POLI for a specific reason in the second half.

We affectionately call the roles in these two halves the Noisy Guests.

Two Types of Noise

Two types of noise make public policy difficult to understand. First, the literal is the constant chatter from political parrots – those who dominate conversations to promote their interests, often with hypocritical irrationality, muddying public discourse. We call this the First Law of Public Policy Formation: People with short-term focus naturally protect their wages, jobs, status, profits, and wealth.

The next kind of noise, the figurative, is the overwhelming influx of information that obstructs discerning meaningful, practical signals to guide decision-making. Identifying and ranking solutions for or against policies on a nonpartisan scale is our primary mission, embodying the Fourth Law of Public Policy Formation.

In this article, our AI called POLI recognizes key undecided players who could be swayed. We predict that a majority in each societal role would say YES or NO, not every single person.

We predict an 84% ±2 vast super-majority of roles in this country to support Invoking the 14th Amendment to Avoid a Debt Default, including a majority of each of the four sides of the political table, making this a US Public Policy Leaderboard (US-PPL) worthy idea. 


Debt Ceiling
Sudden Depth
First Half

Should we invoke the 14th Amendment to avoid a US Debt Default?


Border & Order Republicans (R) (8)

These Republicans want to blame the Democrats for all that’s wrong with the Federal Budget. However, they might recognize that a stable economy aids national security, like securing our borders, giving them pause.

Taker States (28)

Taker states are uneasy that invoking the 14th would undermine the remnants of trust in the Federal government. However, it’s ironic, as national fiscal policy directly benefits them and could sway them.

Billionaires (22)

Downturns in an economy are a buying opportunity for them. Yet, the prospect of a stable market to further grow their assets without diversion might tempt them.

Energy States (24)

Energy states are dubious, concerned that sidestepping Congress via the 14th could lead to unfavorable environmental regulations. However, they might acknowledge that stability in the dollar as a world currency is in their best interests.


Insurances (23)

The 14th Amendment’s potential for economic stability reassures insurance companies, as it ensures consistent revenue streams. However, they’re also cautious that invoking the 14th could lead to broad government oversight, putting a damper on their underwriting freedom.

Sudden Depth Score

YES 1 v NO 4
For a net 3 NO

Calling a Fowl:
Debt Ceiling
Second Half


Free Press (#20)
Media is born to cover controversy, and the Debt Ceiling has a dramatic positive effect on their profitability, although they acknowledge the potential for a financial meltdown.

Liberty Republicans (#18)
The 14th potentially circumventing Congress deeply troubles Liberty Republicans, albeit recognizing that fiscal stability might preserve other freedoms.

Importers (#16)
Importers are fearful of a weaker dollar that the 14th could create, but dodging a world economic contagion might sway them.

Investment bankers are skittish at the thought that the 14th could open the door to broader financial regulation, yet concede that market stability is in their interest.

C-Suite (#25)
Corporate executives are alarmed that the 14th could introduce an era of tighter regulation but understand that a stable economy would help maintain corporate bottom lines. 

Realty (#25)
Realty professionals are uneasy about the 14th impacting property values through economic ripple effects, yet they also see the merit in averting a housing market crash.


Moralist Republicans (#14)
The Moralist Republicans are fortified by a belief that honoring the national debt through the 14th Amendment is a moral obligation. However, they remain uneasy about a potential expansion of executive power.

Governors (#28)
Governors feel relieved by the prospect of economic stability that invoking the 14th could bring, yet they express reservations about the possible reduction in state autonomy.

Party Favor Republicans (#29)
Republican Party Favor recipients are thrilled about protecting the largesse of the federal government, but they are also aware that their stance could alienate the leadership.

Founders (#25)
Business Founders are pleased by the original intent of the 14th to ensure fiscal responsibility but worry it may be misused for current political gamesmanship.


In Sudden Depth, the editors broke the tie on 5 roles that ended up 1 YES and 4 NO for a Net 3 NO.

In the second half, we Called a Fowl on POLI plays on 10 roles that ended up with 6 YES and 4 NO for a net of 2 YES.

The Two Tiebreaker Halves ended up with 7 YES and 8 NO for a net of 1 NO out of 128 roles.

The net of the Tiebreaker is ‘NO’ by 1.

POLI predicts that the final version of the puzzle has an error margin of ± 4% of 128 roles or about 11 roles.

The error margin is determined by 256 deadlocked ‘supreme courts’ with each role being the chief justice in both an assumed 5-4 and 4-5 court. Each court is determined by close ties to other “like” roles.

For this puzzle, there were 15 Noisy guests out of 128 roles, which means 113 Roles were rather easy to call.


We predict an 84% ±2 vast super-majority of roles in this country to support Invoking the 14th Amendment to Avoid a Debt Default, including a majority of each of the four sides of the political table, making this a US Public Policy Leaderboard (US-PPL) worthy idea. 

Congress’s approval rating is 21%, the Supreme Court’s is 40%, the media’s 27%, and the average score of the policies on the PolicyKeys™ National Idea Leaderboard is 73%, with many above 80%—Politics 4.0 is already 2x to 3x better model of US political sentiment and direction than politics as usual.


Where Can We Agree? (Why Don’t You Want To Know?)

You can play this week’s puzzle at


When we call a role’s leanings, we present arguments from both sides of the aisle, change bias vs. status quo bias, and look at sixteen key YES and sixteen key NO reasons. No cherry-picking.

We analyzed patterns of close ties to other roles and loose ties to beliefs, attitudes, values, and ethics. Then, we score the puzzle on all four sides of the Political Table: eight Information Walls, sixteen Subcultural Windows, sixteen Bias Columns, and sixteen Influence Rows.

You can read more about PolicyKeys™ in the upcoming book, Politics 4.0: How Gamification, AI, and National Idea Leaderboards Can Help You Depolarize America. The Observatory of Public Sector Innovation (OPSI) at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has recognized PolicyKeys™ for digital engagement.

The Weekly Puzzle

new PolicyKeys™ Where Can We Agree?® puzzle drops every Monday at 7 a.m. Eastern at

PolicyKeys™ Where Can We Agree? is a real-life role-playing game. Each week, there are sixteen sets of eight ‘rival’ roles. Sit awhile in each of their eight chairs and predict whether a majority of people in those roles would say Yes or No to the week’s question.

POLI* THE AI and our editors parse through over 4000 variables—so you don’t have to. The best ideas land on the US Public Policy Leaderboard (US-PPL) if a majority of each of the four sides of the political table agree. You can play this week’s puzzle at *Political Omnibus Leadership Initiative

Last Week’s Political Flap

Should the US support a new Nuclear Generation (SMR)?

Last week’s political flap took off with the Monday Puzzle Drop introduction. Here’s the BOX SCORE from Tuesday. You’ll be scandalized by the politically strange bedfellows from Wednesday. This Thursday, the editors broke the ties and called some fowls on POLI THE AI’s plays. Friday your Political Digital Twin’s got your back. Saturday’s Keynote wraps up the week’s reporting on this solution.


Fly Higher

Total US Debt

Who does the US Owe?

Government Shutdowns Explained
The Balance

Feeling Beings That Think
Institute for Public Relations

Average Net Worth
US News & World Report

US Median Household Income
St Louis Fed

Average Household Debt
Motley Fool

US Total Net Worth

The Rise and Fall of American Growth
Princeton University Press

The Clinton Surplus

U6 Unemployment over 15% in 2008
St Louis Fed

The 2030s Great Depression
ITR Economics

Why America Will Remain the World’s Only Superpower
American Enterprise Institute

How much would a debt default damage the US?
Christian Science Monitor

Shrinking American Middle Class
Pew Research

It takes guts to see things from all four sides of the political table



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