The Debt Ceiling Riseth

“It is critically important that Congress act before the [debt] limit is reached,” Tim Geithner wrote over the weekend in a letter to lawmakers, “so that citizens and investors here and around the world can remain confident that the United States will always meet its obligations.”

Sounds like our Treasury Secretary is finally putting his foot down, insisting that Congress pull back its lavish spending programs and start addressing our incredible $11.6 trillion national debt.

Wait… what’s that? Oh, Geithner’s actually asking for Congress to raise the debt ceiling. If Congress authorizes our government to dig deeper than $12.1 trillion in debt (our current glass ceiling) our partners here and abroad will somehow “remain confident.” How perverse is that?

The U.S. budget deficit rose $181 billion in July, to a record $1.3 trillion, the Congressional Budget Office reported over the weekend. You know the drill by now… tax receipts are plunging while bailout spending is soaring. In budget parlance, revenues in this fiscal year are down 17% while outlays are up 21%.

That’s a $530 billion increase in spending from fiscal 2008.

The CBO still projects the government budget deficit to exceed $1.8 trillion, about four times 2008’s record $455 deficit. More to come tomorrow, when the Treasury unveils official budget numbers.

Sounds like a great time for the government to buy a bunch of fancy jets! Congress recently earmarked $550 million in a defense funding bill to buy themselves eight private passenger jets. That would be the same Congress that went out of their way to publicly embarrass Big Three execs for jet setting from Detroit to D.C.

Prepared for a public backlash, Congress has several lame talking points at the ready… that the current fleet of private jets is outdated… that having new high-tech planes will be better for the environment and ultimately lower cost… and that these planes will be used mostly by the Pentagon and only about 15% of the time for lawmakers.

But here’s our favorite: Legislators are eager to complete the transaction so that they can have a new fleet in time for the busiest congressional travel period of the year… August, when they are all on holiday!


The Daily Reckoning