Friday, March 7, 2014
By Laurie Kellman / The Associated Press
(Continued from page 1)
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, talks to reporters as he emerges from the Senate Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington on Wednesday, after railing all night against the Affordable Care Act. A number of Republicans expressed disagreement with the senator’s tactics.
The Associated Press
FIRMER DEADLINE SET FOR DECISION ON DEBT LIMIT
WASHINGTON - The nation's debt limit must be raised by Oct. 17 to avoid a potential default, Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew told congressional leaders Wednesday in setting a firmer deadline for lawmakers to break a stalemate.
He urged Congress to "act immediately" to raise the $16.7 trillion borrowing limit or risk "catastrophic" results. Setting a specific date could help force action by lawmakers, who often wait until the last minute on highly controversial legislation.
Last month, Lew gave a vague mid-October date for when the Treasury would run out of the so-called extraordinary measures it has been using to juggle the nation's finances and continue borrowing after the debt limit technically was reached in May.
By the middle of October, the Treasury would have about $50 billion on hand to pay incoming bills on any given day, Lew told Congress on Aug. 26.
But in a letter Wednesday, Lew said more information about revenues allowed him to project that the Treasury would run out of borrowing authority no later than Oct. 17. And at that point, Lew estimated, the Treasury would have just $30 billion in cash.
Daily expenditures can run as high as $60 billion, he said.
"If we have insufficient cash on hand, it would be impossible for the United States of America to meet all of its obligations for the first time in our history," Lew said.
His new estimate is in line with an analysis by the Bipartisan Policy Center that the U.S. would have to raise the debt limit between Oct. 18 and Nov. 5.
An exact deadline-known as the X date-is difficult to set because it is tricky to predict the amount of money coming in from tax payments and other sources on any given day, said Steve Bell, senior director of the center's Economic Policy Project.
The White House remains at odds with congressional Republicans over raising the debt limit. That's led to fears of a repeat of the financial market turmoil that took place in 2011 when Congress acted at the last minute to avoid a potential default -- or worse, of an actual first-ever federal default.
President Obama has refused to negotiate over the issue, saying the debt limit must be raised as it has been dozens of times in the past in order to pay for spending Congress has already authorized.
-- Los Angeles Times
TEA PARTY PERSPECTIVE
The Pew finding focused specifically on this budget fight and "lawmakers who share your views." It showed that 87 percent of people who identify themselves as tea party Republicans support the House-passed budget measure defunding the health care law. That's 26 percentage points higher than non-tea party Republicans.
"I didn't go to Harvard or Princeton, but I can count. The defunding box canyon is a tactic that will fail and weaken our position," tweeted Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., tweaking Cruz for his educational background.
"I think he became a de facto leader of the tea party," Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., said of Cruz.
It was too early to gauge how much campaign cash or other support Cruz attracted. But there were signs that the spectacle drew a crowd. C-SPAN 2 stayed with Cruz for the duration of his speech and saw increased activity on its website that indicated a more than the usual number of viewers, according to Terry Murphy, vice president of programming.
FreedomWorks, a tea party-aligned group, tweeted that 700,000 people watched its live stream of Cruz's speech. It urged supporters to flood the Capitol's phone lines.
In a message to Twitter followers, Tea Party Patriots equated Cruz's stature with that of the nation's highest-ranking Republican, Boehner, who has struggled to maintain the support of uncompromising conservatives in his caucus.
"Is the #GOP the Party of Ted Cruz or John Boehner's freshly laundered white flag of surrender?" the group tweeted.