Tags: us | economy | debt | ceiling | obama | ceiling

US Debt Soars Past $14 Trillion, Fast Approaches Ceiling

Wednesday, 05 Jan 2011 09:04 AM

The U.S. national debt has surpassed $14 trillion for the first time ever, the Treasury Department reports. Just seven months ago, the country's national debt hit $13 trillion and is presently on track to break the $14.294 trillion debt ceiling signed into law by President Barack Obama in February.

The figure has increased 60 percent alone while Nancy Pelosi was Speaker of the House, according to Fox News.

Congress must give Obama the green light to spend beyond the ceiling, and some lawmakers say they won't raise it, which could force the administration to stop spending or even default.

Specifically, some Republicans in the new Congress say they want to block an increase in the debt ceiling unless they see a plan to significantly reduce federal spending and unfunded government liabilities on entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare.

White House officials say the ceiling must be lifted, as more spending is needed to spur more robust economic recovery.

"That would be the first default in history caused purely by insanity," says White House economic adviser Austan Goolsbee, according to CBS News.

Some Republicans appear willing to slash military and other domestic security budgets in an effort to lower the country's debt burden despite earlier calls to keep such expenditures exempt from cuts.

"Everything is going to have to be on the table," says incoming House Republican Leader Eric Cantor, according to Reuters.

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