Welcome to the Debt Ceiling Crisis

Moneybox
A blog about business and economics.
Dec. 27 2012 8:51 AM

Welcome to the Debt Ceiling Crisis

114292288
U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner

Photo by Michael Nagle/Getty Images.

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner informed congress late yesterday that the Treasury Department will reach the statutory debt ceiling on about Dec. 31. At that point the Treasury will start filling the gap between what Congress had ordered it to spend and the taxes Congress has authorized it to collect via a series of accounting gimmicks whose use has been routinized since Robert Rubin pioneered them in the 1990s.

The real drop-dead point, when Treasury runs out of customary gimmicks and will need to start leaving some bills unpaid, should come sometime in February or March though the details of the fiscal cliff make a difference here.

Advertisement

The key takeaway here should be that the looming fight over the debt ceiling means that any resolution of the fiscal cliff—whether it comes tomorrow or in the second week of January—is only going to be provisional. The White House swears its not going to give any policy ground in exchange for lifting the ceiling this time around, and John Boehner swears he's going to demand spending concessions. That's a disagreement that's much harder to finesse than any of the "cliff" points so it we'll probably see a months-long slow-motion budget crisis regardless of what happens with the fiscal cliff.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

TODAY IN SLATE

Culturebox

The Ebola Story

How our minds build narratives out of disaster.

The Budget Disaster That Completely Sabotaged the WHO’s Response to Ebola

PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer

The Shooting Tragedies That Forged Canada’s Gun Politics

A Highly Unscientific Ranking of Crazy-Old German Beers

Education

Welcome to 13th Grade!

Some high schools are offering a fifth year. That’s a great idea.

Culturebox

The Actual World

“Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.

Want Kids to Delay Sex? Let Planned Parenthood Teach Them Sex Ed.

Would You Trust Walmart to Provide Your Health Care? (You Should.)

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 22 2014 9:42 PM Landslide Landrieu Can the Louisiana Democrat use the powers of incumbency to save herself one more time?
  Business
Continuously Operating
Oct. 22 2014 2:38 PM Crack Open an Old One A highly unscientific evaluation of Germany’s oldest breweries.
  Life
Gentleman Scholar
Oct. 22 2014 5:54 PM May I Offer to Sharpen My Friends’ Knives? Or would that be rude?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 22 2014 4:27 PM Three Ways Your Text Messages Change After You Get Married
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 22 2014 5:27 PM The Slate Walking Dead Podcast A spoiler-filled discussion of Episodes 1 and 2.
  Arts
Culturebox
Oct. 22 2014 11:54 PM The Actual World “Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 22 2014 5:33 PM One More Reason Not to Use PowerPoint: It’s The Gateway for a Serious Windows Vulnerability
  Health & Science
Wild Things
Oct. 22 2014 2:42 PM Orcas, Via Drone, for the First Time Ever
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.