Politics: US hits debt ceiling, leaving Treasury a few months of runway with 'extraordinary measures'

The US Treasury is now paying off the government's bills because Congress missed an important deadline

  The US Treasury is now paying off the government's bills because Congress missed an important deadline Republicans are balking at raising the debt ceiling, as they did under Obama. Yellen is using "extraordinary measures" in the meantime.In a letter to Congressional leaders, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said she's starting what are known as "extraordinary measures" to keep the federal government afloat. She urged lawmakers to take swift action to either raise or suspend the debt ceiling, which hit its statutory limit on August 1.

The Treasury Department is embarking upon “extraordinary measures” to keep the United States temporarily from defaulting after the federal debt ceiling was reinstated and immediately became binding Sunday.

a statue in front of a building © Provided by Washington Examiner

A two-year congressional suspension of the debt ceiling expired Sunday, making the level of federal debt, more than $28 trillion, the new ceiling. The Treasury is expected immediately to take emergency cash-conservation steps to pay incoming bills without issuing debt over the limit. On Friday it had already begun preparing for the deadline when it stopped selling State and Local Government Series securities.

Congress could face mid-December debt disaster, Yellen warns

  Congress could face mid-December debt disaster, Yellen warns Yellen told congressional leaders on Tuesday that she has “a high degree of confidence” that her department will be able to finance the government through Dec. 15. But “there are scenarios,” she wrote, that would leave the government without enough cash beyond that date. A gush of corporate tax payments come the middle of next month could make the accounting trick work, filling federal coffers enough to keep Treasury from reaching the absolute breaking point now that the nation has again exhausted its roughly $28 trillion debt limit.

The debt limit was paused at $22 trillion in 2019 — national debt hit $22 trillion in April of that year, less than a year after it hit $21 trillion. Since then, federal spending grew massively over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Congress must act to raise or suspend the cap, or the U.S. could fall behind on its obligations or fail to make a payment on the debt, a scenario that would have catastrophic effects on global financial markets. Raising the ceiling has resulted in tension in the past, as the party out of power has often demanded concessions for agreeing on an increase.

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John Rosen, an adjunct economics professor at the University of New Haven, told the Washington Examiner that in the meantime the Treasury will be taking steps to free up cash to pay incoming bills, such as redeeming investments in federal pension plans and essentially shedding assets to generate cash until Congress acts. Such fiscal maneuvers are referred to as "extraordinary measures."

Debt ceiling: Treasury secretary estimates US could reach debt limit on December 15

  Debt ceiling: Treasury secretary estimates US could reach debt limit on December 15 Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen now estimates that the government will run out of money on December 15, an extension from the previous deadline of December 3. © Al Drago/Pool/AFP/Getty Images US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, September 30, 2021. "There are scenarios in which Treasury would be left with insufficient remaining resources to continue to finance the operations of the U.S. Government beyond this date," Yellen said of the new deadline in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday.

In a letter to congressional leadership, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen implored lawmakers to act and pointed out that no previous U.S. president or treasury secretary has ever entertained the notion of allowing the country to default on any obligation.

“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,” she wrote. “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,” she added, highlighting when the U.S. was downgraded from AAA by AA+ by Standard and & Poor’s for the first and only time.

Adding to the drama of the moment, Congress has been closely divided, and the 50-50 split Senate will need to have 10 Republicans join with all of the Democrats in order for the ceiling to be increased or paused by overcoming the filibuster, although Democrats could overcome that through budget reconciliation where only a simple majority (including Vice President Kamala Harris’s vote) is needed.

Congress has until December 15 to avoid the catastrophe of the US refusing to pay its bills, Janet Yellen says

  Congress has until December 15 to avoid the catastrophe of the US refusing to pay its bills, Janet Yellen says The deadline gives Congress a few more days to raise the debt ceiling. Failure risks "a financial crisis and economic recession," according to Yellen.The US will be unable to pay its bills past December 15, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in a Tuesday letter to Congress. That gives lawmakers slightly more time to raise or suspend the limit on government debt, as Yellen's prior forecast had the US hitting the ceiling on December 3.

Rosen said that he is “quite certain” that Congress will find a resolution to the situation within the next two or three months because the implications of a genuine U.S. default would be “calamitous” for banks and the world financial system.

Joel Griffith, a research fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation, said that he thinks that Congress should use the moment to make the “difficult decisions” that need to be made.

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“Congress should be using this opportunity to finally impose some spending controls,” he told the Washington Examiner. “We are mortgaging future generations, we are risking economic slowdowns and rising inflation because we have not gotten federal spending under control.”

Griffith said that he is not too confident that this time around it will be any different. He pointed out that several Republicans have joined with Democrats to pass a pricey infrastructure spending package.

Tags: News, Federal Debt, Debt Ceiling, National Debt, Congress, Treasury Department, Biden Administration

Original Author: Zachary Halaschak

Original Location: US hits debt ceiling, leaving Treasury a few months of runway with 'extraordinary measures'

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