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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"A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found that 34% of registered voters think the three presidential debates would be extremely or quite important in helping them decide whom to support for president. About 11% of voters are considered 'debate persuadables'—that is, they think the debates are important and are either third-party voters or only loosely committed to either major-party candidate."
Will he or won't he? That's the question surrounding Donald Trump and his on-again, off-again threats to bring onetime Bill Clinton paramour Gennifer Flowers to the debate as his guest. An assistant to flowers initially said she'd be there, but Trump campaign chief Kellyanne Conway "said on ABC’s 'This Week' that the Trump campaign had not invited Flowers to the debate, but she didn’t rule out the possibility of Flowers being in the audience."
NBC's Lester Holt hasn't hosted the "Nightly News" since Tuesday, as he's prepped for moderating the first presidential debate tonight—and the first of his career. He's called on a host of NBC talent to help him, namely NBC News and MSNBC chairman Andy Lack; NBC News president Deborah Turness; the news division's senior vice president of editorial, Janelle Rodriguez; "Nightly News" producer Sam Singal, "Meet the Press" host Chuck Todd, senior political editor Mark Murray and political editor Carrie Dann. But during the debate itself, the only person in Holt's earpiece will be longtime debate producer Marty Slutsky.
"The House passed legislation late Thursday that would prohibit the federal government from making any cash payments to Iran, in protest of President Obama's recently discovered decision to pay Iran $1.7 billion in cash in January. And while the White House has said Obama would veto the bill, 16 Democrats joined with Republicans to pass the measure, 254-163."
In contrast to Hillary Clinton's meticulous debate practice sessions, Donald Trump "is largely shunning traditional debate preparations, but has been watching video of…Clinton’s best and worst debate moments, looking for her vulnerabilities.” Trump “has paid only cursory attention to briefing materials. He has refused to use lecterns in mock debate sessions despite the urging of his advisers. He prefers spitballing ideas with his team rather than honing them into crisp, two-minute answers.”