Without borrowing, the government can only pay 60% of its bills

If Congress does not agree to raise the debt limit, thus making it possible for the federal government to borrow again once the current $16.4 trillion limit is hit, the federal government will only be able to pay about 60 percent of its bills. That’s according to the Bipartisan Policy Center, which has published an apocalyptic report in advance of the debt ceiling showdown warning of the consequences should Congress fail to raise the debt ceiling later this year.

Forget the coming showdown for a minute and focus on the first number: The BPC report wants readers to understand how bad it would be if Congress failed to raise the debt limit. But here’s another way to think about it: Without the option to borrow, the government can only finance 60 percent of its operations and obligations in the short term. More than a third of that spending goes right onto the national credit card.

That sort of reliance on borrowing is why annual deficits are so high. It’s why total federal debt levels keep growing. It’s why the Congressional Budget Office describes our debt trajectory as “unsustainable.” It’s why it is so important to focus on spending — not just on our long-term entitlement obligations, but now. This year. We’re already spending so much that in near-term, 40 percent of it has to go on the credit card. That’s how utterly dependent on borrowing, and how utterly unable to reduce spending, our federal government already is.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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  • banjo kid

    Just about every poster on this blog warned what would happen with a second term and now we are seeing the dictator arise to the front of the room and show his ugly face. Obama himself said in 2008 to have this kind of debt is reckless and we expanded on that to let every one know he will raise the ceiling to the sky is the limit , and now we are faced with a president unwilling to abide by the laws of our country and by the constitution. A dictator is coming soon to a area near you. Get used to it because there is no will to impeach nor any will to stop his run away spending and he will continue until we are broke, dead broke. Elections have consequences and we will have them in spades. Spades means a high hand in poker not black per say for you race baiters out there.

  • Kevin Flanagan

    Why aren’t they selling off assets?

    • PK

      Yes exactly. Why do all levels of government, raise taxes to expand the budget instead of liquidating the tens of trillions of dollars that are in investments? The big banks that own the Federal Reserve and majority shares in all the major corporations, fund our politicians to invest our money with them so they can buy up the world. Then when taxes aren’t enough for the “budget”, they hit us up for some more of our money and never touch the money tied up in the investment houses, or any of the government owned land of course. It’s about bankrupting us all so we have to beg the government for a can of beans.

  • matthew_bosch

    You see its simple…I need more credit cards to payoff my current credit cards, so then I can buy more stuff with these other credit cards.