Thursday, September 20, 2007

AP-Paulson urges Congress to lift U.S. debt ceiling

The following appeared in the Sept. 20 issue of the St. Paul Pioneer Press via the AP.

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson told Congress on Wednesday the government will hit the current debt ceiling on Oct. 1. He sought quick action to increase the limit, saying it was essential to protect the "full faith and credit" of the country, especially at a time of financial market turmoil. The limit is $8.965 trillion. Unless Congress votes to raise it, the country would be unable to borrow more money to keep the government operating and to pay debt obligations coming due. The United States has never defaulted on a debt payment, but the decision on whether to raise the debt ceiling often means a prolonged battle in Congress. That does not take into account moves the government often has to use, such as withdrawing investments from certain trust funds to create room for extra borrowing until Congress finally approved a debt-limit increase. This month, the Senate Finance Committee approved increasing the limit on the debt to $9.82 trillion. That boost of $850 billion would be the fifth since President Bush took office in 2001. The House approved an increase in May. The full Senate has not acted yet.

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