President's plan to work around the debt ceiling
THE fiscal cliff may have been avoided, but an even higher-stakes political standoff — this time, over the federal debt ceiling — is just around the bend.
Congressional Republicans have said they will demand immense cuts to popular government programs in exchange for agreeing to raise the nation’s authorized borrowing limit of $16.4 trillion. The Treasury Department briefly nudged against that ceiling on Dec. 31, but used “extraordinary” financial measures to buy more time. If nothing is done, the government will soon be unable to pay all of its bills in a timely manner. This unprecedented event would profoundly damage the government’s credit rating and send the financial system into a tailspin.
So far, President Obama isn’t giving in. As he rightly said last week, he “will not have another debate with this Congress over whether or not they should pay the bills that they’ve already racked up through the laws that they passed.”
But for the president’s tough talk to be credible, Congress and the country need to know before we reach the breach point — an event that could come as early as February — that he has a plausible plan to work around the debt ceiling.