NEWPORT BEACH – It has been raised more than 70 times in the last 50 years, mostly without commotion. It must be raised again this summer if the United States government is to continue paying its bills on time. But now America’s debt ceiling has become the subject of intense political posturing and touch-and-go negotiations behind closed doors. And, obviously, the outcome has implications that go well beyond the US.
As part of America’s system of checks and balances, Congress gets to do more than just approve the annual federal budget. It also sets a limit on how much debt the US Treasury is allowed to issue. Beyond this ceiling, the government can spend only from current revenues.