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Jack Lew to Congress: Raise the debt limit already

Jacob Lew Address Forum On Economic Costs Of Climate ChangeJacob Lew Address Forum On Economic Costs Of Climate Change
U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew.Photo by Mark Wilson—Getty Images

Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew is blasting Congress for yet again “manufacturing a crisis for our country” by not raising the debt limit.

In an op-ed in USA Today, Lew says that the economic progress made by the United States since the Great Recession—the creation of 13.2 million jobs since 2010, a 40-year-low jobless rate, and high consumer confidence—will be in jeopardy should Congress not increase the nation’s borrowing power.

“By waiting to the last minute to act on the debt limit, Congress could cause a terrible accident. This is not an abstraction; failure to raise the debt limit would mean devastating impacts for taxpayers, consumers and businesses,” Lew writes.

In the recent past, some Republican lawmakers have seen debt limit hikes as opportunities to impose spending cuts. Lew pointed to the debt ceiling standoffs of 2011 and 2013, the latter of which resulted in a partial government shutdown. Those instances, he says, “pushed our country to the brink of potential economic catastrophe.”

Without Congressional action, on November 3, the United States government will be operating with only the cash currently available, which Lew calls, “a profoundly irresponsible” course of action.

“Once again, I call on Congress to do the responsible thing for our country and raise the debt limit as soon as possible,” Lew says. “While time is short, I am confident that our congressional leadership will heed that call and protect the American people from unnecessary and unprecedented harm.”