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Raising the debt ceiling could be easier this time

John Dimsdale Jan 17, 2012
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Jeremy Hobson: The House of Represntatives gets back to business today after its winter break. And one of the first items on the agenda is raising the debt ceiling… again. That’s because the U.S. Treasury is about to hit its borrowing limit. Now, the last time this happened — as we all remember — the political squabbling led to a downgrade of the U.S. credit rating.

But this time, raising the debt ceiling should be a lot easier, as our Washington bureau chief John Dimsdale reports.


John Dimsdale: Republicans and Democrats have agreed to a little political theater to increase government borrowing without triggering another debt downgrade or stock market swoon. Members of Congress can vent their opposition to growing deficits. They can even vote down a debt ceiling increase. But President Obama can veto their rejection, allowing the debt ceiling to go up without congressional approval.

Unless opponents can muster a two-thirds majority to override the veto, says American University government professor James Thurber.

James Thurber: The far left and the far right are going to make this very hard to come together and come up with a solution.

If successful, the scenario allows another $1.2 trillion worth of debt, which should get the government through the end of this year. And Congress has agreed to pay for that increase with across the board spending cuts — but not until next year.

In Washington, I’m John Dimsdale for Marketplace.

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