Federal Debt and the Statutory Limit, September 2013

by Sabrina I. Pacifici on September 26, 2013

CBO – Federal Debt and the Statutory Limit, September 2013

“The Congress has traditionally placed a limit on the total amount of debt that the Department of the Treasury can issue to the public and to other federal agencies. Law-makers have enacted numerous increases to the debt limit—commonly known as the debt ceiling—some of which have been temporary but many of which have been permanent. The Treasury’s borrowing has been at the current limit since May, although it has employed a well-established toolbox of so-called extraordinary measures that allow it to borrow additional funds without breaching the debt ceiling. On September 25, 2013, the Treasury estimated that its ability to borrow under those extraordinary measures will be exhausted no later than October 17, leaving a cash balance of approximately $30 billion. CBO currently projects that the Treasury will exhaust all of the borrowing authority created by those measures, as well as its cash balance, between October 22 and the end of the month. (It is possible, however, that the date could fall outside of that range.) Those dates are sooner than CBO estimated earlier this month, for two reasons: Forthcoming investments in Government Account Series (GAS) securities are expected to be greater than previously anticipated because a transfer of general funds to the Highway Trust Fund is scheduled to occur in October this year (rather than in November, as occurred last year) and because deposits in the Military Retirement Fund and the Medicare-Eligible Retiree Health Care Fund are now expected to be larger than they were last year; also, receipts of corporate income taxes during the past several days fell short of CBO’s expectations.”

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