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2011-04-07 09:48:00 - By

The Debt Ceiling Has Been Raised Often in the United States Since It Was First Implemented




Congressional Research Service - Logo As sure as the sun will rise in the morning, the debt ceiling will rise in the United States.

Reagan, Clinton, Bush (H.W. or W.), Carter - what do they all have in common? The debt ceiling in the United States was raised multiple times during their time in office.

Increasing the debt ceiling limit is not a Republican thing or a Democrat thing - it's a United States thing.

According to the Congressional Research Service, Congress has enacted "74 separate measures that have altered the limit on federal debt" since March of 1962.

According to the CRS, the statutory limit on federal debt started with the Second Liberty Bond Act of 1917, which helped to finance the United States' entry into WWI.

The Second Liberty Bond Act allowed Congress to enact "aggregate constraints on certificates of indebtedness and on bonds that allowed the Treasury greater ability to respond to changing conditions and more flexibility in financial management." Separate limits were set on different categories of debt, including certificates and bonds.

In 1939, Congress eliminated these separate limits, which created "the first aggregate limit that covered nearly all public debt".

As you can probably guess, the debt ceiling was raised multiple times during WWII. On March 28th, 1942, the debt ceiling limit was raised from $65 billion to $125 billion. On April 11th, 1943, the debt ceiling limit was raised from $125 billion to $210 billion. By the time that the second World War had come to an end, the debt ceiling in the United States was $300 billion. The debt ceiling limit would be reduced to $275 billion shortly after that.

Even though the Korean War took place from 1950-1953, the debt limit in the United States remained at $275 billion until 1954. According to the CRS, the Korean War was financed by higher taxes rather than increased debt.

From 1954-1962, the debt limit in the country would be raised seven times and reduced twice. It would take until March of 1962 for the debt limit to hit $300 billion, which is the level that it was at by the end of WWII.

As mentioned, Congress has enacted 74 separate measures from 1962 until present day that have altered the federal debt limit.

In recent years, the raising of the debt ceiling in the country has become a yearly occurrence. With the United States expected to continue posting deficits for the foreseeable future, there is no reason to expect this to change anytime soon.

The debt ceiling in the United States currently sits at $14.294 trillion. The United States currently owes $14.243 trillion, which is why the topic of increasing the debt ceiling in the country is all over the news right now. The debt ceiling must be increased and soon, or else there will be major damage done to the US economy.

Source: Congressional Research Service - The Debt Limit: History and Recent Increases (*.pdf)


Filed under: General Knowledge



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