$14,300,000,000,000: Debt Limit Showdown Looming

Post Republican Takeover, House to Take Up Debt Limit in Next Congress

ByABC News
November 5, 2010, 2:41 PM

Nov. 8, 2010 -- Republicans took control of the House of Representatives with vows to cut federal spending, but the GOP will soon face a stern test of its fiscal discipline early next year when Congress is set to raise the country's debt limit yet again.

The debate is already raging over what to do. Refuse to raise the debt ceiling and risk a fiscal crisis? Or relent and risk alienating the voters who entrusted the GOP to tighten the federal purse-strings?

"One key test Republicans will face as early as this spring will be whether to bail out career politicians who have failed to budget by increasing the national debt limit, or instead force them to cut spending," wrote Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., in a Washington Examiner op-ed Friday.

"If Republicans vote to raise the debt without insisting on spending cuts, whatever credibility we may have will be gone," he warned.

But Rep. John Boehner, the likely new Speaker of the House, told ABC's Diane Sawyer on Thursday that there are "multiple options" for how to deal with the debt limit, noting that Congress will make sure the country is "ready to meet our obligations."

"Increasing the debt limit allows our government to meet its obligations," he noted. "And I think that there are multiple options for how you deal with it. But for our team, I think we're going to have to demonstrate that we've got to have reductions in spending. The government's spending more than what we bring in. We can't afford it."

"We're not quite sure when we're going to face this increase in the debt limit, but when we do, we'll be ready to meet our obligations," he added.

At this point it appears that Congress will have to raise the debt ceiling sometime early next year. The national debt is currently north of $13.7 trillion, fast approaching the limit of $14.3 trillion.