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Stacey Vanek-Smith: The federal government has been spending a lot of money lately. Money it doesn't necessarily always have. Now, there's a limit to how much the government can borrow. It's called the national debt limit. And apparently we're getting pretty close to it. So the White House is asking Congress to raise that limit. Marketplace's Nancy Marshall Genzer reports.

Nancy Marshall Genzer: Twelve-trillion dollars sounds like a lot of cash. That's the government's current debt limit. But the White House wants as much as $1.5 trillion more, according to Bloomberg.

Burton Malkiel is a Princeton economist. He says Congress has no choice. It has to raise the debt limit.

BURTON MALKIEL: You can't, on the one hand, vote a stimulus package that will tend to increase the deficit and then say the government can't borrow the money to pay for it.

Congress has already hiked the limit three times in the past two years. If Congress approves another increase, it'll take the government through the 2010 midterm congressional elections.

In Washington, I'm Nancy Marshall Genzer for Marketplace.