Mendoza School of Business

ND professor talks numbers in debt debate

Published: July 27, 2011 / Author: Kevin Allen

Washington’s debate over
raising the nation’s debt ceiling includes some gigantic numbers.

The U.S. government is on track to spend
$1.4 trillion more than it collects in taxes
this budget year. The national debt is $14.3 trillion, or about $46,000 per

Perhaps the smallest number involved in
the wrangling is six – that’s how many days Congress and President Barack Obama
have before the federal government hits the current limit on how much it’s allowed
to borrow.

Without raising the debt ceiling, the
government won’t be able to sell more bonds for the money it needs to continue
paying all of its bills beyond Tuesday.

A default could mean a partial government
shutdown and suspend payments in programs such as Medicare and Social Security.
It also could lead credit-rating agencies to downgrade the nation’s top-level
AAA rating, causing interest rates to rise for everything from credit cards to
car and home loans.

Tom Cosimano, an economics professor at
the University of Notre Dame, said government still would collect taxes, but
that revenue falls short of obligations by about 37 percent, or about $100
billion per month.

“What they’d have to do is decide, of all
their expenses, which ones they aren’t going to pay,” Cosimano said.

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Topics: Mendoza