The debt ceiling is a terrifying, confusing, amorphous monster. But there’s a slide show that can at least give you everything you need to know about it.
We’re not even totally in the clear on a shutdown over funding the government, but Congress is already onto the next fiscal crisis. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew sent a letter to Congress on Wednesday saying that if Congress doesn’t act to raise the debt ceiling, the government will be left with just $30 billion in cash. “If we have insufficient cash on hand,” Lew wrote, “it would be impossible for the United States of America to meet all of its obligations for the first time in our history.”
This is something to be legitimately frightened about. House Republicans, while they look as if they are getting ready to retreat on the budget fight, are gearing up to go very, very hard on the debt limit. It’s impossible for congressional leadership to say how this will end, much less your humble media prognosticator.
But how exactly did we get here? And what exactly could we be looking at? The Bipartisan Policy Center has put together a slide show with literally anything you could possibly want to know about the mechanics of the debt limit, how the government has been able to hold off on “extraordinary measures” for this long, and why October could be a fiscal apocalypse.
The center, even after Lew’s letter, is predicting that the U.S. government will no longer be able to meet its financial obligations between October 18 and November 5. Here’s why.
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In The New Yorker, Jeffrey Toobin gives Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, the longread treatment. The scourge of corrupt New York pols, bad actors on Wall Street, and New York gang members, Bharara learned at the foot of Chuck Schumer, the famously limelight-hogging senator whom he served as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee staff. No surprise then, that after President Obama appointed him, Bharara "brought a media-friendly approach to what has historically been a closed and guarded institution. In professional background, Bharara resembles his predecessors; in style, he’s very different. His personality reflects his dual life in New York’s political and legal firmament. A longtime prosecutor, he sometimes acts like a budding pol; his rhetoric leans more toward the wisecrack than toward the jeremiad. He expresses himself in the orderly paragraphs of a former high-school debater, but with deft comic timing and a gift for shtick."
President Obama has announced another round of commutations of prison sentences. Most of the 58 individuals named are incarcerated for possessions with intent to distribute controlled substances. The prisoners will be released between later this year and 2018.
The Daily Beast has unearthed a piece that Donald Trump wrote for Gear magazine in 2000, which anticipates his 2016 sales pitch quite well. "Perhaps it's time for a dealmaker who can get the leaders of Congress to the table, forge consensus, and strike compromise," he writes. Oddly, he opens by defending his reputation as a womanizer: "The hypocrites argue that a man who loves and appreciates beautiful women (and does so legally and openly) shouldn't become a national leader? Is there something wrong with appreciating beautiful women? Don't we want people in public office who show signs of life?"
An aide to Mitt Romney confirmed to the Washington Post that the 2102 GOP nominee will not attend the Republican convention this year. He joins the two living Republican presidents, George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush, as well as 2008 nominee John McCain in skipping the event. Even among living Republican nominees, that leaves only Bob Dole who could conceivably show up. Dole did say in January that he'd prefer Trump to Ted Cruz, but his age (92) could keep him from attending.