Debt Ceiling Could Be Hit This Month
By Leigh Strope, AP
WASHINGTON (AP) – The government should hit the national debt’s $7.4 trillion ceiling this month, and the Bush administration told Congress again Monday it should raise the limit. That would be a politically sticky move just weeks from the Nov. 2 elections.
Treasury Department spokesman Rob Nichols said the government is on track to reach the limit in early October. He could not provide a more specific date but said the forecast is made ‘on a day-to-day basis,’ and Congress would be notified.
The government can juggle accounts to stay under the limit through mid-November to avoid default, as it has in the past. But the Bush administration is urging Congress, which expects to adjourn Friday, to go ahead and raise the ceiling.
‘We’ve been calling on Congress to act now for months, and we think it’s important that they do so,’ Nichols said.
The government’s debt was $7.364 trillion as of Friday, $18.3 billion from the ceiling. Congress last boosted the limit in May 2003.
Democrats this election year have cited the rising debt as evidence that President Bush is mishandling the economy. The administration counters that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and efforts to strengthen security at home have forced the increased government borrowing.
House Democrats sent a letter to Treasury Secretary John Snow on Monday requesting a meeting to discuss the limit, when it would be reached and what options the department would pursue. It was the second such letter and noted that he failed to respond to the first.
‘Our debt has been growing markedly faster than our economy’s ability to repay it, thanks in large measure to tax cuts proposed and enacted into law by the administration and congressional Republicans,’ said the letter, signed by Democratic Reps. John Spratt of South Carolina, Charles Rangel of New York and Charles Stenholm of Texas.
Nichols said Snow intends to respond to both letters soon. Should Congress fail to act before the limit is reached, Snow ‘would take the appropriate steps to protect the full faith and credit of our government,’ he said.
Let’s not forget that the government had a SURPLUS four years ago….