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Technology & Innovation

The Debt Ceiling Explained

Treasury Secretary Geithner's letter to Congress on the debt ceiling warns that if Washington doesn't raise the government's borrowing limit, the economy will face catastrophe.

The U.S. government without a rising debt ceiling is like an average American without a credit card. If you can’t borrow money, you can only spend what you earn. As Bruce Bartlett explained to me, “Let’s say the Treasury makes $100 of cash today but it has to pay $1000 of bills. You have to create a line.” If we pay off investors, we can’t pay off contractors. If we pay Social Security checks, we can’t pay federal employees. Michael Linden predicts the immediate cessation of 40 percent of federal government activities, including Social Security and military operations.


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