The United States definitely needs a debt ceiling. Our debt is getting out of control in this country and we need to stop digging the whole deeper. If we set a ceiling people will adjust to it accordingly and know not to implement things to go past it. This is much needed.
It is hard to say right at the moment, sometimes you need to borrow more money to pay your bills and get yourself back in the black so that you can proceed forward with plans to address the need for more income and less spending. You cannot remain stagnant and fall to a debtor mentality. However, you cannot endlessly extend your level of debt, so there has to be a plan in place to change the problem you are facing. It is silly to say that you have an idea how to get out of this situation but it will require a bit more spending before you will see economic growth that could lower your debt, but refuse to spend any additional money to do it. That is not the same as saying we should not have a debt ceiling.
Yes, we need a debt ceiling as a basis for economic policy. Our recent tradition to spend more money than the government brings in has allowed us to spend far beyond our means. The negative reaction of this spending has been a decrease in the value of the dollar and the lowering of our AAA rating. A debt ceiling will help the government better prioritize its funding and reduce debt.
The entire construct of a debt ceiling is flawed because it can be either a) completely ignored, or b) damaging to a government's functions. For the first case, let us look to the recent conduct of the United States' Congress. A certain amount of spending and borrowing (how much of it being subjective) authorized by Congress can be viewed as wasteful or careless. The debt ceiling is not taken into account, and so the spending continues. Congress then realizes that they have almost reached their debt limit. This leads to the second argument that the debt ceiling is counterproductive. Firstly, when it is reached, it can be the cause of a federal shutdown. Millions of people lose time for work, and some could even lose their jobs and health plans because of it. People who depend on welfare will not receive that welfare in the time of a shutdown. Organizations supported by the federal government for humanitarian services may not get funding. The debt ceiling may not always cause these shutdowns, but reaching the debt ceiling and not having enough time for Congress to appropriate spending cuts causes programs that people depend on to either be stifled or paused.
The debt ceiling has no purpose for a few reasons. One is that congress always raises it when we get close so it seems like it's just there for congress to hassle about. Another reason why it exists is to make the president look bad and the congress to look good. The President collects the tax, then the congress tells him how to spend it and the president has to spend that way. When the debt gets close to the ceiling, only the congress can fix it and by raising it. It is irrelevant.
The reason to propose a debt ceiling would be to prevent excessive strain on a country's resources. The problem with this idea, is that it does not take into account the reasons that debt amasses in the first place. A country borrows the money that it thinks it needs to handle the problems with which it is faced. If too much money is being borrowed, then action must be taken to reduce that burden, but denying the ability to borrow only increases the chance that problems, and their impending consequences, cannot be addressed.