Patterico's Pontifications

12/16/2009

U.S. National Debt Exceeds Limit

Filed under: Economics,Government — DRJ @ 7:23 pm



[Guest post by DRJ]

The U.S. national debt hit $12.135 trillion and now exceeds the legal Debt Limit of $12.104 trillion approved by Congress in February. But the Obama Administration’s Treasury Department knows how to get around it:

“A senior Treasury official told CBS News that the department has some “extraordinary accounting tools” it can use to give the government breathing room in the range of $150-billion when the Debt exceeds the Debt Ceiling.

Were it not for those “tools,” the U.S. Government would not have the statutory authority to borrow any more money. It might block issuance of Social Security checks and require a shutdown of some parts of the federal government.”

The government’s solution is to increase the Debt Limit by another $290B. They wanted more than that, but Republicans and conservative Democrats blocked a move “to pass a $1.8 trillion dollar increase in the Debt Limit so the Democratic majority would not have to face the embarrassment of raising the Debt Limit yet again before next November’s midterm elections.”

— DRJ

27 Responses to “U.S. National Debt Exceeds Limit”

  1. would they were embarrassed

    happyfeet (71f55e)

  2. So, Obama’s saying the US will go bankrupt if the bill doesn’t pass. Nice.

    Mike K is right; this is just a way to save Medicare (and Medicaid too probably) by taxing ahead.

    cassandra in MT (d46f32)

  3. funny, but if i try to run my bank accounts like this, law enforcement shows up to stop me….

    redc1c4 (fb8750)

  4. These people are fundamentally lawless. The Black Panther case, the change in Senate rules to allow Sanders to withdraw his amendment, the harassment of the Arizona sheriff. They are going to appoint a Cuban agent as ambassador to El Salvador. No shame.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  5. “The Black Panther case, the change in Senate rules to allow Sanders to withdraw his amendment, the harassment of the Arizona sheriff. They are going to appoint a Cuban agent as ambassador to El Salvador. No shame.”

    What will happen once the washington times is gone?

    imdw (603c39)

  6. Why would a conservative Democrat prefer to vote on this again in the spring?

    I mean, I can understand why Republicans would; embarassing the Democrats is important to them. But … a conservative Democrat is presumably going to have to defend their vote, because voting ‘no’ isn’t actually an option.

    This is one of those bizarre formalities that make the political game frustrating: the increase in the debt ceiling will always pass when it comes up for a vote because the alternative is an immediate government shut down … a price few are willing to pay.

    aphrael (db0b5a)

  7. My generation’s getting hosed. But we voted for the guy, right? So it’s kinda like “thank you sir, may I have another?”

    Still, we’re getting hosed. There’s some ugly stuff on the horizon.

    Leviticus (30ac20)

  8. Comment by imdw — 12/16/2009 @ 7:50 pm

    More people will read the Examiner!

    AD - RtR/OS! (e12e24)

  9. The Evolution of a Democracy

    From Bondage to Spiritual Faith
    From Spiritual Faith to Great Courage
    From Courage to Liberty
    From Liberty to Abundance
    From Abundance to Complacency
    From Complacency to Apathy
    From Apathy to Dependence
    From Dependence to back into Bondage

    DaveinPhoenix (6f6037)

  10. Solid B+ Move.

    daleyrocks (718861)

  11. Leviticus, that it the core theme of our times. That’s what people will remember us for. Your generation will either become the greatest and most selfless generation, or it will try to pass this off onto the next generation somehow. We’re not leaving a whole lot of room for a normal people.

    “because voting ‘no’ isn’t actually an option.

    This is one of those bizarre formalities that make the political game frustrating: the increase in the debt ceiling will always pass” -Aphrael

    This is a succinct explanation of why Leviticus’s generation is screwed.

    Eventually, the government will have to shut down in some kind of crisis as we defund in a massive way. The sooner, the better. The GOP and the Democrats pass the buck, and the stakes go up, and we still know we’re going to have this crisis. Not that Aphrael is wrong. It will pass next year, and it was a strange calculation for blue dogs.

    Dustin (44f8cb)

  12. My generation’s getting hosed. But we voted for the guy, right? So it’s kinda like “thank you sir, may I have another?”

    Still, we’re getting hosed. There’s some ugly stuff on the horizon.

    Comment by Leviticus — 12/16/2009

    Leviticus, to be fair, it’s not just on the Gen-Yers. The notion that we can live high on the hog without consequences is a philosophy that has driven politics for the last 40-some-odd years. It’s not just on the young–it’s on everyone’s head.

    In a democracy, even in one with a republican framework like ours, we get the government we deserve. If our elected leaders have sunk into mediocrity and enact policies that are incapable of looking past the current election cycle, that is a reflection on us as much as them, because we (that is, our culture and society as a whole) hired them for the job.

    Another Chris (470967)

  13. So now we describe anti-constitutional acts by the executive branch as “accounting tools”?

    MTF (6e6f07)

  14. The math is really, really depressing when you think about it.

    12 Trillion / 300 Million = $40,000 in debt for every man, woman and child in the US today.

    And, just like a maxed-out credit card, we’re covering interest while the principal grows. I sometimes wish I would have put my savings in another currency.

    carlitos (57cfe1)

  15. Dustin: at any given time, for a self-interested politician, the vote on raising the debt ceiling is a no-brainer: either you trigger the disaster now and get blamed for it; or you pass the buck down the road.

    The question is, what happens when the debt comes due? If we were growing the economy at 5-6%/year, no big deal … but we aren’t.

    aphrael (73ebe9)

  16. But we voted for the guy, right? So it’s kinda like “thank you sir, may I have another?”

    Maybe next time you’ll listen to us old folks. We know a thing or two. :)

    Scott Jacobs (d027b8)

  17. Don’t worry, when the debt comes due, we can nationalize some businesses and pay it down. No problem!

    carlitos (57cfe1)

  18. In a democracy, even in one with a republican framework like ours, we get the government we deserve. If our elected leaders have sunk into mediocrity and enact policies that are incapable of looking past the current election cycle, that is a reflection on us as much as them, because we (that is, our culture and society as a whole) hired them for the job.

    Absolutely.

    And part of me wonders if the solution isn’t to push for social change and trust that the political change will follow from it.

    aphrael (73ebe9)

  19. The answer lies in #9, renew your faith and build your courage. (and break out the torches and pitchforks)

    Corwin (ea9428)

  20. Aren’t “extraordinary accounting tools” what got Enron in trouble and Arthur Anderson broken up?

    rudytbone (8eae7b)

  21. What pushing for social change is going to make legislators no longer be, well … legislators. I was going to call them hoo-ers, but legislators is an even more direct term.

    JD (c7b6c7)

  22. Rhetoric for the day…

    social change in a republic ever evolves in response to changes in social conditions

    political change in a republic comes from changes made in the legislatures and executive branches which flow through to the judicial system and other institutions and bureaucracies under their control

    The first is typically derived from the latter given a republican form of govt.
    The latter performed through elections of the lightly corrupted genre.

    Since voters largely vote in their own self interest, most elections turn on voters’ perceptions of what is in their best interests. Hope and Change™ was the last bright new penny. The next bright new penny has yet to be minted. I doubt the D party in their current state of self-fragging will succeed in minting anything close to bright. I doubt the R party as it nervously watches the Tea Party gaining traction as a snortin’ Trojan horse has anything brighter to present to the voters. Thus the gloom pervading the economic and political landscapes.

    Of course, as an agnostic my doubt serves as both a bug and a feature. But as a citizen of the US and a mere grain of sand amongst the global denizens, I wistfully ponder the sentiment and implications of a recently read quote from Papa Hemingway:

    “Most of the worlds ills could be corrected with a three day open season on people.”

    political agnostic (03d8ec)

  23. “Maybe next time you’ll listen to us old folks. We know a thing or two. :)”

    – Scott Jacobs.

    Bah, sir. Bah. I doubt McCain’s fiscal policies would’ve been much better for the debt (though I will allow that they probably would’ve been somewhat better); anyway, I know that we were headed toward a balanced budget and a surplus under Clinton, and that Bush was anything but a fiscal conservative… so it’s not like there was an obvious choice for fiscal wisdom in this last election. Just a choice between Tweedle(D) and Tweedle(R) – business as usual, I assume.

    Anyway – you guys know where I stand on the Democrats (as liberal as I am). Unless there’s a proverbial Ross Perot on the next presidential ballot, I’m voting for Zombie Eugene V. Debs in 2012.

    Oh, and I forgot – because you presume to have a different opinion than mine, I am going to beat you up! Because that’s the way mature intellectuals like myself handle these things! /sarc

    Leviticus (f0f166)

  24. Bah, sir. Bah. I doubt McCain’s fiscal policies would’ve been much better for the debt (though I will allow that they probably would’ve been somewhat better); anyway, I know that we were headed toward a balanced budget and a surplus under Clinton, and that Bush was anything but a fiscal conservative… so it’s not like there was an obvious choice for fiscal wisdom in this last election. Just a choice between Tweedle(D) and Tweedle(R) – business as usual, I assume.

    *hands Leviticus a pamphlet titled “So You’ve Decided To Become A Libertarian”* :)

    Oh, and I forgot – because you presume to have a different opinion than mine, I am going to beat you up! Because that’s the way mature intellectuals like myself handle these things! /sarc

    See, this is why we like you. 😀

    Scott Jacobs (d027b8)

  25. “Don’t worry, when the debt comes due, we can nationalize some businesses and pay it down. No problem.”

    Why, the profits from GM American Leyland will be more than enough…
    Oh, never mind.

    AD - RtR/OS! (2917cb)

  26. “See, this is why we like you.”

    – Scott Jacobs

    Well, I won’t pretend I was the first one to make a joke along those lines in the past few days… but I didn’t who’d actually earned the hat-tip, so consider this my disclaimer.

    On the other hand, I know to hat-tip nk for all the “jasmine-scented” jokes… and who knows? If things stay the way they’ve been these past few days, those jokes could regularly come in handy.

    Leviticus (30ac20)

  27. Laws? Schmaws I say. George Bush made us feel so bad for eight years that we’re allowed to do whatever we want and justify it by screaming “Booooosh!”

    Channeling TPM for a minute.

    chaos (9c54c6)


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