u.s. debt ceiling history
The U.S. Treasury, in order to avoid default, has resorted to an eyebrow-raising move: it has borrowed from the federal employee pension fund as the country nears its debt ceiling.
The U.S. government stopped investing in the federal employee pension fund Tuesday "to avoid breaching the statutory debt limit," according to a letter Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner sent to Congress.
Geithner said that the move will free up some $156 billion in borrowing authority, while policy leaders in Washington wrangle over raising the $16.4 trillion debt limit.
Geithner promised the fund would be "made whole once the debt limit is increased," and maintains that federal employees and retirees would not be affected by the action.
But an IOU from the federal government isn't very settling for those relying on the fund for retirement.
U.S. Debt Ceiling Deadline Prompts This Stern Warning from Obama
The U.S. debt ceiling deadline lies just a few weeks away, raising the prospect of the nation defaulting on loans, seeing its credit rating downgraded and being plunged into a recession.
And there's no sign U.S. President Barack Obama or congressional Republicans are ready to budge on their positions on what to do about the debt ceiling.
President Obama once again made his case for raising the debt ceiling during a White House press conference today (Monday) and faulted Republicans for what he portrayed as a misguided position.
"They will not collect a ransom in exchange for not crashing the American economy," President Obama said. "The full faith and credit of the United States of America is not a bargaining chip."
If the GOP lawmakers refuse to increase the U.S. debt ceiling - they're holding out for dollar-for-dollar spending cuts - the president said markets could "go haywire," government payments including Social Security and military personnel checks would be delayed and the economy would slide into recession.
"It would be a self-inflicted wound on the economy," President Obama said. "It would slow down our growth and tip us into recession. To even entertain the idea of this happening is irresponsible. It's absurd."