Why the US has a debt ceiling : Planet Money : The Indicator from Planet Money The debt ceiling approaches. A congressional standoff ensues. It wasn't always this way. So why did the debt ceiling get built? And how do other countries control their debt?

Simon says we're stuck with the debt ceiling

Simon says we're stuck with the debt ceiling

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Second Liberty Loan of 1917 Poster (Photo by Swim Ink 2, LLC/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images) Swim Ink 2, LLC/Corbis via Getty Images hide caption

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Swim Ink 2, LLC/Corbis via Getty Images

Second Liberty Loan of 1917 Poster (Photo by Swim Ink 2, LLC/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

Swim Ink 2, LLC/Corbis via Getty Images

Showdowns over the debt ceiling are like football — both are quintessentially American games. And even though Congress just passed a temporary extension of the debt ceiling to help the U.S. government 'pay its bills' through early December, there's more drama in store.

It wasn't always this way, says Simon Rabinovitch of The Economist. The debt limit was originally supposed to make it easier for the government to spend money. Today on the show, we go from the original debt ceiling to "debt brakes" and "debt anchors."

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