POLITICS

Here we go again: Senate asks Treasury for debt limit details

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Conn Carroll

If you enjoyed the August 2011 debt limit showdown between Congressional Republicans and the Obama White House, then you’ll love the first few months of an Obama second term.

Sens. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner today demanding details on Treasury Department’s plans for managing federal payments should the nation’s statutory debt limit not be raised above the current $16.39 trillion.

“According to the October 11, 2012 Daily Treasury Statement,” the letter reads, “total public debt subject to the statutory debt limit was $16,119,122 million, or $274,878 million below the limit of $16,394,000 million. In other words, just over a year later, we’ve already exhausted 87 percent of the $2.1 trillion increase in federal borrowing authority, averaging more than $4 billion in borrowing a day.” At $4 billion a day, the letter suggests we should hit the debt limit in just over two months.

The Hatch and Sessions letter goes on to accuse Geithner of failing to develop a “plan B” for managing federal spending during last summer’s debt limit debate. “With more complete information about when the debt limit may next be reached, we hope to aid decision-makers and preempt any need for such a contingency plan in the future.” Specifically, Hatch and Sessions ask Geithner for “periodic updates” on 1) When Treasury believes it will need to begin extraordinary measures to keep federal debt below the statutory limit: 2) When Treasury believes these measures will be exhausted; 3) What are Treasury’s plans for assets sales; and 4) What has changed since the last update.

Hatch and Sessions want these updates issued November 1, December 3, January 2, February 1, and March 1. “We urge you to consider these to be hard deadlines, and not mere suggestions,” the letter concludes.

You can read a full copy of the letter here.

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