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Idea of the Day: Facts About the Debt Limit

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The government shutdown is already causing severe hardship across the country, but we are quickly approaching an even larger crisis: breaching the federal debt limit. Experts at the U.S. Department of the Treasury warn that if Congress fails to raise the debt limit soon, the result could be an economic catastrophe “of the magnitude of late 2008 or worse, and the result then was a recession more severe than any seen since the Great Depression.”

A new CAP column answers the five most important questions for understanding the debt limit crisis:

  1. What is the debt limit?
  2. What happens if we don’t raise the debt limit?
  3. Does raising the debt limit authorize new spending?
  4. Is there an alternative to raising the debt limit?
  5. Who is responsible for raising the debt limit?

For more on this topic, please see:

To speak with our experts on this topic, please contact:

Print: Liz Bartolomeo (poverty, health care)
202.481.8151 or

Print: Tom Caiazza (foreign policy, energy and environment, LGBT issues, gun-violence prevention)
202.481.7141 or

Print: Allison Preiss (economy, education)
202.478.6331 or

Print: Tanya Arditi (immigration, Progress 2050, race issues, demographics, criminal justice, Legal Progress)
202.741.6258 or

Print: Chelsea Kiene (women's issues,, faith)
202.478.5328 or

Print: Beatriz Lopez (Center for American Progress Action Fund)
202.741.6255 or

Spanish-language and ethnic media: Rafael Medina
202.478.5313 or

TV: Rachel Rosen
202.483.2675 or

Radio: Sally Tucker
202.481.8103 or


This is part of a regular column: Idea of the Day

For more from the same column, click here