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BY ALLIE SPILLYARDS
ANCHOR MEGAN MURPHY
You're watching multisource politics news analysis from Newsy
Last week’s budget showdown was over billions of dollars. But that’s just pocket change compared to the number that matters now.
$14.294 trillion. It’s called the debt ceiling. And to hear politicos talking about it- it sounds like Congress is preparing for doomsday.
KAY BAILEY HUTCHINSON: “Really the debt ceiling's going to be Armageddon.”
EZRA KLEIN: “The economy will go into a tail spin. It will be a catastrophe.”
ERROL LOUIS: “The repercussions would be profound. They would be severe. And they would be permanent.”
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner predicts the U.S. will hit its debt ceiling in mid-May -- which makes the need for compromise all the more urgent. So what exactly is the debt ceiling? ABC’s David Kerley explains.
“It’s like defaulting on your home mortgage. Nobody would loan you anymore money without a much higher interest payment.”
But CNBC’s Erin Burnett argues, borrowing is not really a necessity.
ERIN BURNETT: “We are a very wealthy country. If you look at our assets, we could pay down the debt tomorrow. We choose to borrow because we can borrow at incredibly low interest rates. Our country, because we are the safest country in the world, has this ability to borrow. And to choose to borrow and to pay it down later. Other countries don’t have that choice.”
Her colleague Jim Cramer warns- the debt is a serious issue.
JIM CRAMER: “Everyone’s playing with fire. We’re no better than these European countries that are in trouble.”
ABC’s Jake Tapper calls last week’s 2011 budget standoff a slap fight compared to what the U.S. could be facing with the battle over raising the debt ceiling.
“While a government shutdown was serious, defaulting on US debt ... could mean Social Security and veterans benefits cut, a collapse of the stock market, home prices plummeting, tax hikes, a curtailing of Medicare, Medicaid, student loans, and much more.”
And according to The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein - the effects wouldn’t just be short term.
“Right now, the market doesn't believe that our political system would ever allow a debt default. The morning after a default happens, the market will have been proven wrong, and it will have been proven wrong permanently: If it can happen once, it can happen again in 20 years. In that world, the cheap debt that America enjoys and relies on is gone forever, and our economy is likely to be permanently worse off for it.”
But don’t expect an agreement any time soon. A writer for CNN Money says...
“In any case, coming to agreement on any long-term plan -- balanced or not -- is unlikely to happen in the next month. So don't be surprised if lawmakers just approve a series of small increases to the debt ceiling while the negotiations continue.”
According to the latest NBC News Wall Street Journal Poll 62% of Americans say the debt ceiling shouldn’t be raised.
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Debt Ceiling Defined - as part of the expert series by GeoBeats.
Debt Ceiling Defined
We’ve all heard, and we’ve seen in the news, that our country is reaching its debt ceiling. But few of us really understand what that means, or know how it impacts us personally. So, the debt ceiling, let’s see if we can make it apply in a more familiar situation. Say in your household you have a certain number of credit cards and you have access to certain lines of credit. Well, over time, if you max out all your credit cards and all your lines of credit, basically the creditors, the banks, will say you cannot borrow any more. So that’s the situation we’re faced with as a country; and there are some who argue that we should raise that ceiling, meaning we should be allowed to borrow more, just like going to your own bank and saying, can I please borrow more, because this is a tough situation; and there are others that say we need to not borrow more, we need to focus on paying down the debt. So that’s the general situation, that’s what it means, and it’s going to take a collaborative effort to figure it out, because it’s a pretty complex problem. But we all have to work together, and it will get resolved.
Week in review: Scott speaks at random about a variety of topics including Amy Winehouse's passing, the debt ceiling negotiations, Chinese bioengineering, the Cyprus CDS blowout, a leopard attack and more.
Check out the blog for links to the articles he mentions.
Congress finally passed a debt ceiling package. Joe Biden says jobs will now be a priority and president Obama seems ready to cut social security and medicare next. Cenk Uygur breaks it down.