The Obama administration this week is warning Congress that it needs to raise the nation’s debt ceiling – the maximum the government can legally borrow – beyond its current $18,113,000,000,000.00 because officials already are having to juggle the books to keep the balance in the black.
The issue repeatedly has been the source of conflict in Washington, with a standoff in 2011 leading to a downgrade in the nation’s credit rating by one rating agency and another in 2013 developing into a two-week shutdown of some portions of government when Barack Obama refused to negotiate with Congress.
Now, according to CNN, Treasure Secretary Jack Lew has dispatched to leaders of the legislative bodies a letter telling them they need to raise the ceiling and soon.
Or lawmakers could, according to another plan, from the Government Accountability Office, simply eliminate the ceiling entirely.
To give the president virtually unlimited borrowing authority.
The recent GAO report said such a move would eliminate the possibility there would be no money available to pay interest on the nation’s debt when it comes due.
Reported CNN, “This scenario would also reduce the potential for disruptions to financial markets well before a deadline that approaches for defaulting on the debt.”
The current debt ceiling of $18,113,000,000,000.00 was reached in mid-March, but administration officials say they are operating the government on “extraordinary measures” for now – essentially transferring funds around, utilizing those accounts with balances and delaying scheduled payments for things like retirement benefit accounts.
Estimates are now that those mechanisms will expire sometime probably in October.
Lew told members of Congress, “We believe that the measures will not be exhausted before late October, and it is likely that they will last for at least a brief additional period of time.
According to AP, the current national debt stands only pocket change – $25 million – below the limit.
Lew told Congress he wants to get his way “without controversy or brinksmanship.”
And he warned that because of the the variables in the economy, “Treasury is not able to provide a specific estimate of how long the extraordinary measures will last.”
The debt ceiling already has been raised 74 times in the last five decades, including five times so far under Obama.
Congress had passed the Temporary Debt Limit Extension Act in February 2014 and that simply suspended the debt limit for Obama. But that expired in March of this year, and the new limit of $18,113,000,000,000.00 was set.
The national debt clock recently (the numbers change constantly) estimated that the debt liabilities per person totaled $57,026. But because there are many who do not pay taxes, the per taxpayer liability is $154,433.
It points out that because of the GOP majority in the U.S. House, there are 246 members, they could simply refuse to authorize additional borrowing, and trigger one of the biggest cutbacks in federal spending ever.
It also would tell the world members of Congress are addressing the “debt time bomb” that America is facing.
Launched by WND CEO Joseph Farah, the programs notes the debt limit issue is the “greatest opportunity to return American to constitutionally limited government.”
“Do you want to stop passing on debt to our children and grandchildren – money that is frittered away on useless, wasteful and unconstitutional departments, agencies and bureaucracies that benefit no one except the power brokers in Washington?” he asks. “The only option – the only game in town – is this ‘No More Red Ink’ campaign. It’s the only way for you to reach every single member of the House Republican caucus inexpensively, securely and with an investment of about one minute of your time.”
He points out it doesn’t taken any Democratic cooperation – 218 GOP members alone can halt more borrowing.