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Sunday, February 4, 2018

Blowing Up the Debt

Heather Long at WP:
It was another crazy news week, so it's understandable if you missed a small but important announcement from the Treasury Department: The federal government is on track to borrow nearly $1 trillion this fiscal year — Trump's first full year in charge of the budget.
That's almost double what the government borrowed in fiscal year 2017.
Here are the exact figures: The U.S. Treasury expects to borrow $955 billion this fiscal year, according to a documents released Wednesday. It's the highest amount of borrowing in six years, and a big jump from the $519 billion the federal government borrowed last year.
Treasury mainly attributed the increase to the “fiscal outlook.” The Congressional Budget Office was more blunt. In a report this week, the CBO said tax receipts are going to be lower because of the new tax law.
From CBO:
 The debt limit—commonly called the debt ceiling—is the maximum amount of debt that the Department of the Treasury can issue to the public or to other federal agencies. The amount is set by law and has been increased over the years to finance the government’s operations. The limit was suspended on September 8, 2017. On December 8, 2017, that suspension expired, and the Secretary of the Treasury announced a “debt issuance suspension period” during which existing statutes allow the Treasury to take “extraordinary measures” to borrow additional funds without breaching the debt ceiling.
CBO projects that if the debt limit remains unchanged, the ability to borrow using extraordinary measures will be exhausted and the Treasury will most likely run out of cash in the first half of March 2018. If that occurred, the government would be unable to pay its obligations fully, and it would delay making payments for its activities, default on its debt obligations, or both. (The timing and size of revenue collections and of outlays over the next few weeks could differ noticeably from CBO’s projections, however, so the extraordinary measures could be exhausted and the Treasury could run out of cash either earlier or later than CBO projects.)