What is the US DEBT CEILING?

IN BRIEF

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What is the domestic national debt ceiling? 

A cap on how much the US government can borrow to finance its operations. 

  • It was introduced during World War I so that Congress wouldn’t have to approve every bond issuance by the Treasury Department as it had done previously—freeing up more time for name-calling. 
  • The debt ceiling has been suspended dozens of times over the years, including 3x during the Trump administration. 

CITE: https://www.r2library.com/Resource/Title/0826102549

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Debt Ceiling: Definition, Current Status

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Without suspending the debt ceiling, the US wouldn’t be able to borrow money to pay its bills—and things would get ugly if that happened. The federal government would have to slash spending for programs like Medicaid, local governments would find it harder to borrow, and financial markets could go haywire.

In short, a failure to act would “produce widespread economic catastrophe,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen wrote in the Wall Street Journal. 

Important note: The debt ceiling doesn’t account for new spending, like the $3.5 trillion proposal the Democrats have on the table. Instead, it’s about spending Congress has already authorized, such as paying out Social Security. Over the years, the debt ceiling has become a “political weapon,” according to the AP, as each party tries to blame the other for their spending habits and for heaping more debt on the US. 

IRS: https://home.treasury.gov/policy-issues/financial-markets-financial-institutions-and-fiscal-service/debt-limit

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CITE: https://www.r2library.com/Resource/Title/0826102549

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CITE: https://www.r2library.com/Resource/Title/0826102549

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