Most Shared

Health Care Reform
 
text size

Treasury Says US Will Hit Debt Limit in Mid-October

Updated: Thursday, August 29 2013, 11:06 AM EDT
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew has told Congress that the government will run out of money to pay its bills in mid-October unless lawmakers raise the country's borrowing limit, which is capped at $16.7 trillion.

Lew said in a letter to Speaker John Boehner released Monday that the government is running out of accounting maneuvers it has used to avoid hitting the borrowing limit. He pressed Congress to act so Treasury can keep paying the government's bills.

Lew said it's impossible for Treasury to predict exactly when borrowing limit will be reached. But he warns that if action isn't taken soon, the government could be left with $50 billion in cash by mid-October. He says that wouldn't be enough to cover Social Security payments, military personnel salaries, Medicare and other programs for an "extended period."

Lew told CNBC in a Tuesday morning interview that there cannot be any question that the United States is a country that pays its bills.

"It's not as if we get to go back and undo the commitments we made," he said. "These are old bills that have to be paid."

Earlier this year, Congress temporarily suspended the borrowing limit so lawmakers could focus on other budget debates. Treasury has kept the government operating for several months through its bookkeeping maneuvers. A smaller deficit this year has also helped.

The government is spending more than it takes in, running up annual deficits in excess of $1 trillion in each of the past four budget years. It has been borrowing the difference to meet its obligations.

Republicans want to reduce future deficits by cutting back sharply on spending. Democrats have proposed a mix of spending cuts and tax increases, which Republicans strongly oppose. The issue awaits resolution when lawmakers return from the recess.

Congress last passed legislation to increase the borrowing limit in the summer of 2011 after a months-long negotiation between President Barack Obama and top lawmakers like Boehner. Republicans forced Obama to accept about $2 trillion in spending cuts over the coming decade in exchange for a like-sized increase in the borrowing limit.

Obama says he won't negotiate on the debt limit this time around and says Congress should fund the spending it has previously approved.

Many Republicans want to use upcoming budget deadlines to mount an assault on Obama's signature health care law. Top House Republicans could use the borrowing limit measure as a way to derail "Obamacare," though the White House and top Senate Democrats say that's a nonstarter.

Lew told CNBC the administration would not accept a delay or defunding of parts of the law, which aims to help millions of uninsured people gain health insurance coverage. The law calls for the expansion of the state-federal Medicaid program starting next year in many states and for income-based subsidies to help people buy individual policies.

--

Associated Press writers Andrew Taylor in Washington and Tom Murphy in Indianapolis contributed to this report.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.Treasury Says US Will Hit Debt Limit in Mid-October


Advertise with us!

Related Stories

 

Enrollment for healthcare exchanges as part of healthcare reform begins October 1 in states where exchanges will be set up. Expect special reports each week from us about what you need to know about 'Obamacare' and the ongoing political fight about its future.

Health Care National Stories
When Will We Know What The Numbers Mean Behind Obamacare?

Small Businesses Size Up Taxes Under Affordable Care Act

Digging Through The Affordable Care Numbers

Deadline Is Over: Calculations Start

Marching To The Deadline

Cable Or Obamacare

Anti-Obamacare Ads

Another Delay In The Affordable Care Act

A New Wrinkle To The Affordable Care Act

Emergency Care On The Brink

An Early Cost Gauge Of Obamacare

Confusion Over ACA Still Reigns

The PR Campaign for Obamacare

Suing Over Healthcare

Obamacare in the Hands of President Obama

Paying for Obamacare

Health and Human Services Wastes Millions on Cancer Drug

A Chief Architect of Obamacare Gives Some Employees a Pass

Healthcare.Gov -- a Hackers Delight

How Healthy Are Insurance Co-Ops?

The Cost of the Affordable Care Act

Doubling Down On Affordable Care

Democrats Run For Cover

Enroll America Under Fire

The Republican Divide Over Healthcare

Congress Treated to the Royal Side of Obamacare

'Obamacare' Disappears From Talking Points and Promotion

Hacking Into Healthcare.gov

Changing the Rules to Obamacare

Healthcare Heartburn

Who Are The Healthcare Navigators?

Counting Obamacare Enrollees on One Hand

Is Sorry Enough?

"You Can Keep Your Healthcare Plan"

Other Looming Health Care Disasters

Heartbreaking Health Care Letters

The Few and Far Between

Millions of Americans Frustrated by Healthcare.Gov

When Did the White House Know Millions Would Lose Health Care Coverage?

Feds Promise to Fix the Affordable Care Website

Why is it so Difficult to Enroll for Healthcare Insurance?

Viewer Questions About the Affordable Care Act Asked and Answered

Sorting Out Fact from Fiction About Breast Cancer Screenings

What Changes are Coming to CHIP?

Confusion Over Health Care Law Still Persists

Doctor Visits

Health Care Spending

The Unexpected Costs of Health Care

Attempting to Derail Obamacare

Concerns Over the Cost of Healthcare

Rubio on Obamacare

Healthcare Exchanges

Defunding Obamacare

Healthcare Reform: A Doctor

Congress and Healthcare

No Change in Obamacare Opinions

Unions Oppose Obamacare

The Cost of Obamacare on Your Wallet

The Individual and Family cost of Healthcare under the new law

Questions and Answers About the Affordable Care Act

Whooping Cough Advisory

Lots of Questions About the Health Care Law

Healthcare Exchanges Continue to Generate Viewer Questions


Should the Affordable Care Act be repealed?

Yes
No


Retype


Share your Health Care Reform questions and challenges with new health care laws.

Name
Location
Question