The debt ceiling will rise once again — this time by $1.2 trillion — after the Senate today blocked a resolution that would have denied President Obama an increase. The increase is enough to keep the government running and paying its bills through November 2012.
This increase would raise the U.S. government’s credit limit to $16.394 trillion. According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, the current U.S. gross domestic product sits at $15.176 trillion.
Sen. Kay Hutchison, R-Texas said today on the Senate floor that the debt was at more than 100 percent of the current U.S. GDP. This is the subject of some debate. According to the Office of Management and Budget the outstanding debt held by the public is currently estimated at 72 percent of the GDP. But the OMB, an arm of the Obama administration, does not factor in intragovernmental loans backed by U.S. Treasury Bonds. When those are subtracted from the debt, it lowers to closer to $10.8 trillion. The U.S. Treasury department has historically used this formula as well.
Not counting intragovernment loans, the only time the U.S. has owed more than it took in was during 1945 and 1946.
Congress had 15 days following the president’s request to increase the debt limit to vote on a resolution of disapproval, as per the Budget Control Act passed by Congress last August.
The resolution, which passed the Republican led House of Representatives last week, was today voted down by the Senate by 52 to 44, with four GOP members not voting. Even if the Senate had passed the resolution that would have denied the debt ceiling increase, it was expected that the president would have vetoed it.
With only one Republican, Sen. Scott Brown, R – Mass., voting with Democrats to filibuster the motion, Republican senators upheld Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s promise of sending “a simple message to the White House: No more blank checks.”
“Washington needs to start spending less than it takes in,” McConnell, R-Ky., said. “And our future will always be uncertain and our economy in danger as long as the president fails to lead on this crucial issue.”
Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., one of many Republicans to speak in favor of the resolution, said it was no wonder Americans were “disgusted with Congress.”
“A debt limit doesn’t mean anything in this country, because every time we come up to the debt limit, what we do is just pass it rather than the things the American people have asked us to do,” Coburn said. “Shouldn’t we come together as men and women, Americans, not Democrats and Republicans, and say we’re going to do what we can do to assure the future of this country and quit thinking about the next election.”
Coburn added that “we ought to be doing what is needed. It’s called making priorities.”
Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., said he agreed with Coburn’s call for bipartisanship and reining in the debt, but differed on how to go about it.
“What troubles me greatly is many of the same senators who are going to vote against the debt ceiling voted for the spending,” Durbin said. “They voted to spend the money knowing we didn’t have it. … Don’t vote for the spending if you won’t vote for the borrowing, because we know now they are linked together.”
Two Democrats, Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W. Va., and Ben Nelson, D-Neb., voted with Republicans to deny President Obama an increase.
ABC’s John Parkinson contributed to the report.