U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Friday that unless Congress acted quickly to raise the statutory limit on the amount of money the federal government can borrow, she would be forced to “start taking certain additional extraordinary measures” to prevent the United States government from defaulting on its financial obligations.
In a letter sent to Pelosi and other members of the congressional leadership in both parties, Yellen asserted that an increase or continued suspension of the debt limit “does not increase government spending, nor does it authorize spending for future budget proposals; it simply allows Treasury to pay for previously enacted expenditures.”
With just days to go before the statuary suspension of the debt limit ends at noon on July 31, the need for congressional action has already become a political football. Both parties are trying to use the issue on Capitol Hill to gain leverage over the other to either stop or move through to final passage several pieces of legislation that are a top priority for the Biden Administration.
The full text of the letter is as follows:
Dear Madam Speaker:
As you know, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019 suspended the statutory debt limit through Saturday, July 31, 2021. I am writing to inform you that beginning on Sunday, August 1, 2021, the outstanding debt of the United States will be at the statutory limit.
Today, Treasury is announcing that it will suspend the sale of State and Local Government Series (SLGS) securities at 12:00 p.m. on July 30, 2021. The suspension of SLGS sales will continue until the debt limit is suspended or raised. If Congress has not acted to suspend or increase the debt limit by Monday, August 2, 2021, Treasury will need to start taking certain additional extraordinary measures in order to prevent the United States from defaulting on its obligations.
Increasing or suspending the debt limit does not increase government spending, nor does it authorize spending for future budget proposals; it simply allows Treasury to pay for previously enacted expenditures. The current level of debt reflects the cumulative effect of all prior spending and tax decisions, which have been made by Administrations and Congresses of both parties over time. Failure to meet those obligations would cause irreparable harm to the U.S. economy and the livelihoods of all Americans. Even the threat of failing to meet those obligations has caused detrimental impacts in the past, including the sole credit rating downgrade in the history of the nation in 2011. This is why no President or Treasury Secretary of either party has ever countenanced even the suggestion of a default on any obligation of the United States.
The period of time that extraordinary measures may last is subject to considerable uncertainty due to a variety of factors, including the challenges of forecasting the payments and receipts of the U.S. government months into the future, exacerbated by the heightened uncertainty in payments and receipts related to the economic impact of the pandemic. Given this, Treasury is not able to currently provide a specific estimate of how long extraordinary measures will last. However, there are scenarios in which cash and extraordinary measures could be exhausted soon after Congress returns from recess. For example, on October 1 alone, cash and extraordinary measures are expected to decrease by about $150 billion due to large mandatory payments, including a Department of Defense-related retirement and health care investment.
In recent years Congress has addressed the debt limit through regular order, with broad bipartisan support. I respectfully urge Congress to protect the full faith and credit of the United States by acting as soon as possible.
It is highly unlikely members in either party will allow the deadline to be reached without reaching some kind of compromise agreement to forestall the U.S. defaulting on its debt. Such a move would, most economists agree, that even a technical default would put in motion a disruption in the global financial markets of what one economist called “a global disruption of unknown and unknowable proportions.”
Such a collapse, which would provide China an ample boost in their campaign urging the replacement of the dollar as the global reserve currency, would likely be blamed on the Republicans. Fear that it might in turn limits the ability of spending restraint advocates to argue the deadline should be allowed to come and go unless reforms are made.
This game of economic chicken has been tried before, with the first one to blink generally considered the loser.
by Ali Meyer • Washington Free Beacon
Former President Obama left office having added $9.3 trillion to the national debt, according to numbers from the Treasury Department.
When Obama took office on Jan. 20, 2009, the outstanding public debt totaled $10,626,877,048,913. On Jan. 20, 2017, when Obama left office, outstanding public debt totaled $19,944,429,217,106, an increase of roughly $9.3 trillion.
Comparatively, former President George W. Bush contributed far less to the debt. When Bush took office in January 2001, the debt was roughly $5.7 trillion. That figure had swollen to $10.6 trillion by the time he left office, an increase of about $4.9 trillion. Continue reading
By Dave Boyer • The Washington Times
When President Obama signs into law the new two-year budget deal Monday, his action will bring into sharper focus a part of his legacy that he doesn’t like to talk about: He is the $20 trillion man.
Mr. Obama’s spending agreement with Congress will suspend the nation’s debt limit and allow the Treasury to borrow another $1.5 trillion or so by the end of his presidency in 2017. Added to the current total national debt of more than $18.15 trillion, the red ink will likely be crowding the $20 trillion mark right around the time Mr. Obama leaves the White House.
When Mr. Obama took over in January 2009, the total national debt stood at $10.6 trillion. That means the debt will have very nearly doubled during his eight years in office, and there is much more debt ahead with the abandonment of “sequestration” spending caps enacted in 2011. Continue reading
This article was published on March 20, 2012.
By Matt Cover • CNSNews.com
Although the national debt under President Barack Obama has increased $4 trillion since he took office in 2009, as a presidential candidate in 2008 Obama criticized then-President George W. Bush for adding $4 trillion to the national debt, saying it was “unpatriotic” and also “irresponsible” to saddle future generations with such a large national debt.
“The problem is, is that the way Bush has done it over the last eight years is to take out a credit card from the Bank of China in the name of our children, driving up our national debt from $5 trillion dollars for the first 42 presidents — number 43 added $4 trillion dollars by his lonesome, so that we now have over $9 trillion dollars of debt that we are going to have to pay back — $30,000 for every man, woman and child,” Obama said on July 3, 2008, at a campaign event in Fargo, N.D.
“That’s irresponsible. It’s unpatriotic,” said candidate Obama.
$2,883,250,000,000: Federal Taxes Set Record Through August; $19,346 Per Worker; Feds Still Run $530B Deficit
By Terence P. Jeffrey • Investor’s Business Daily
The federal government raked in a record of approximately $2,883,250,000,000 in tax revenues through the first eleven months of fiscal 2015 (Oct. 1, 2014 through the end of August), according to the Monthly Treasury Statement released Friday.
That equaled approximately $19,346 for every person in the country who had either a full-time or part-time job in August.
It is also up about $198,425,330,000 in constant 2015 dollars from the $2,684,824,670,000 in revenue (in inflation-adjusted 2015 dollars) that the Treasury raked in during the first eleven months of fiscal 2014. Continue reading
Federal tax revenues continue to run at a record pace in fiscal 2014, as the federal government’s total receipts for the fiscal year closed April at $1,735,030,000,000, according to the Monthly Treasury Statement.
Despite this record revenue, the federal government still ran a deficit of $306.411 billion in the first seven months of the fiscal year, which began on Oct. 1, 2013 and will end on Sept. 30, 2014.
In the month of April itself, which usually sees the peak tax revenues for the year, the federal government ran a surplus of $106.853 billion. While taking in $414.237 billion in total receipts during the month, the government spent $307.383 billion.
In fiscal 2013, the federal government also ran a one-month surplus in April, taking in $406.723 billion during the month and spending $293.834 billion, leaving a surplus of $112.889 billion. Continue reading
On Feb. 17, 2009, President Obama promised the sun and the moon and the stars. That was the day, five years ago, when he signed the $800 billion “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.” President Modesty called it “the most sweeping economic recovery package in our history.” He promised “unprecedented transparency and accountability.” He claimed the spending would lift “two million Americans from poverty.” Ready for the reality smackdown?
The actual cost of the $800 billion pork-laden stimulus has ballooned to nearly $2 trillion. At the time of the law’s signing, the unemployment rate hovered near 8 percent. Obama’s egghead economists projected that the jobless rate would never rise above 8 percent and would plunge to 5 percent by December 2013. The actual jobless rate in January was 6.6 percent, with an abysmal labor force participation rate of 63 percent (a teeny uptick from December, but still at a four-decade low). Continue reading
The debt of the federal government, which is normally subject to a legal limit, jumped by $409 billion in the month of October, according to the U.S. Treasury.
That equals approximately $3,567 for each household in the United States, and is the second-largest one month jump in the debt in the history of the country.
In the continuing resolution deal sealed by President Barack Obama and the Republican congressional leadership last month, the legal limit on the federal debt was suspended until February 7 of next year. Continue reading
The recent wrangling in Washington over the debt ceiling, with both sides promising to return to battle early next year, never got around to considering this proposition: Maybe debt ceilings are a bad idea, because they may lead to increased spending.
A debt ceiling may seem like a good way to constrain out-of-control government, by focusing attention on the federal deficit and the resulting debt increase. (For the record, the United States debt recently surpassed $17 trillion.) But that focus draws attention from the underlying problem: too much spending.
Debt ceilings also provide a false sense of security. Borrowing will never get too far out of hand, the thinking goes, because the ceiling will cap it. Yet the U.S. debt hits the debt ceiling time and again because the federal government runs chronic deficits. This addiction to overspending has forced Congress to raise the debt ceiling more than 90 times during the past 70 years, and 15 times since 1993 alone. Continue reading
During the shutdown, 85 percent of government stayed open despite the hoopla reported in the media. Government is now 100 percent open. Debt-ceiling deadlines have been averted, but the real problem remains: a $17 trillion debt and a president who continues to pile on new debt at a rate of $1 million a minute.
The government shutdown occurred because Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid allows the Senate to lurch from deadline to deadline without passing a single appropriations bill. Had he done his job and passed each of the 12 appropriations bills, the government could have stayed open.
Opening government has not resolved the big picture — a debt problem so large that it dwarfs all deadlines and threatens the very fabric of the nation. What remains is an unsustainable debt, precisely the problem that motivated me to run for office. Continue reading
It’s all-shutdown-all-the-time in Washington these days. But all that talk has obscured the far bigger challenge facing the nation next week, when the government runs out of room to borrow more money to cover its expenses as it hits the congressionally imposed “debt ceiling.” It would be a disaster for the global economy to see America default on its debts. While it is true America can continue to pay the obligations on its debt and most of its other outlays each month with the tax dollars that are collected, that is only a stop-gap solution. As a nation we must find a sustainable long-term solution to run away debt and eventual insolvency.
Therefore, it is incumbent on all parties to work to work to find a practical and workable long-term solution. Thankfully, we have a recent precedent from the last debt ceiling debate. The result was sequestration. It worked in curbing spending growth, but was a blunt tool, applied across the board. The current shutdown gives us much better information about where the next sequestration should be targeted. Continue reading
For furloughed workers, the federal government shutdown has clearly had an impact. But for most citizens, the shutdown has been notable for largely going unnoticed. That’s not because federal officials aren’t doing their best to make it appear otherwise. In fact, federal officials often seem to be working harder to inconvenience Americans during the shutdown than they worked to serve Americans when the government was in full operation.
For months now, the GOP has been held hostage by a faction of its party that deluded itself into believing President Obama might be rolled on his signature health-care law. Witness now an equally grand delusion on the Democratic side, one that President Obama nurtures at his peril.
According to Democrats, their steadfast refusal to negotiate on the government shutdown or the debt ceiling is rooted in a belief that now is the moment to “break” the GOP “fever.” Democrats are furious that Republicans today use every Washington deadline to extract a spending concession—and insist they must be broken of that habit. Continue reading
One remarkable aspect of the shutdown/debt limit battle is the irresponsibility (on the part of the Obama administration) and incompetence (on the part of the news media) concerning the claim that the federal government will default on its debt obligations if Congress fails to raise the debt limit. President Obama and his minions have clearly suggested that default is a real possibility:
“As reckless as a government shutdown is … an economic shutdown that results from default would be dramatically worse,” Obama said on Thursday. Clearly targeting Republicans, he said a default would be “the height of irresponsibility.”
Then, on the same day, Obama’s Treasury Department released a brutal statement that said a default would prove catastrophic, causing credit markets to freeze and leading to “a financial crisis and recession that could echo the events of 2008 or worse.” Continue reading
Since getting the boot from the United States Senate, Bob Bennett has been writing a weekly column in the Deseret News, one of Utah’s two daily newspapers (and the only one that doesn’t periodically chastise its readers for being too stupid to understand its editorial positions). Occasionally ex-Senator Bennett reminds us that he is a very smart man with many good ideas. Occasionally he reminds us why the voters got rid of him. He does so in his op-ed of Monday, 7 October.
In his short essay, which you can read yourself here, Bennett tells us why it is important not to default on commitments made to those who have lent the U.S. money, and indeed it is. He neglects to mention the spending that made this borrowing necessary – spending to which he was a major contributor. When Bennett took office, the national debt stood at about $6 trillion. By the time he left it had grown to about $14 trillion. During his 18 years in the Senate, Bob Bennett voted for 132 out of 133 appropriations bills on final passage in the Senate. Appropriations bills are the bills that actually spend the money. The size of this debt and its growth trend is what should concern us far more than today’s fight. The Congressional Budget Office projects that by 2038, public debt will reach 100% of GDP. Continue reading