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Debt Limit Analysis: Everything You Need to Know in 30 Slides

The Brief
  • The federal debt limit was reinstated at $22.0 trillion on March 2, 2019.

  • Due to the nature of the legislation that suspended the debt limit, the government immediately ran up against its limit on March 2.

  • For the 8th time in the past eight years, the Treasury secretary has deployed emergency borrowing authority – known as “extraordinary measures” – to continue fully funding government operations for an additional period of time.

  • If Congress does not extend the debt limit, BPC projects that Treasury will most likely be unable to meet all of its financial obligations at some point in October 2019 (what we call the “X Date”). There is a risk, however, that the X Date could arrive in the first half of September.

On March 2, 2019, the debt limit was reinstated at $22 trillion. 

To operate the government at the debt limit, the Treasury Department once again deployed so-called “extraordinary measures,” accounting maneuvers that allow for full government operations to continue for an additional, but limited, period of time.

If those extraordinary measures run out and Treasury depletes its cash reserves, the federal government would reach the “X Date” – the unprecedented day on which the U.S. government is unable to meet all its obligations in full and on time.

BPC’s latest analysis indicates a risk that the “X Date” could arrive in the first half of September 2019, although October remains the most likely scenario.

These 30 slides will explain key information on the debt limit.

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