March 13, 2015, was the first day that the Daily Treasury Statements showed a closing limit at 18,112,975,000,000. This number has now been frozen for 4 straight months. The latest Treasury statement on July 13, 2015 also showed $18,112,975,000,000 at its closing. This repeating amount is a portion of the federal debt that is subject to a legal limitation, currently sitting about $25 million less than the legal debt limit allowed by Congress.
Every day since March 13th, the Daily Treasury Statement shows the debt starting and ending with the exact same amount — $18,112,975,000,000.
The same day that the debt amount ended in $18,112,975,000,000, the current Treasury Secretary, Jacob Lew, informed Congress via a letter that he was issuing a debt “suspension period.” His rationale was due to the fact that legislation passed in 2014 suspended the debt limit until March 15, 2015 — in two days time.
Therefore, Lew wrote, on March 16, “the outstanding debt of the United States will be at the statutory limit. In anticipation of reaching that date, Treasury has suspended until further notice the issue of State and Local Government Series securities, which count against the debt limit.” These securities are classified as public debt.
Without having the debt limit raised by an act of Congress, the Treasury Department announced an alternative solution. Lew would issue a “‘debt issuance suspension period’ with respect to investment of the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund and also suspend the daily reinvestment of Treasury securities held by the Government Securities Investment Fund and the Federal Employees’ Retirement System Thrift Savings Plan.”
The last time the Treasury enacted a debt suspension was two years ago for roughly 150 days until the statutory debt limit was resolved. As I wrote back in October 2013,
“Monday, October 14, 2013 marks 150 days since the Treasury Department’s listing of public debt has not moved. The most current Daily Treasury report(October 10) shows “Total Public Debt Subject to Limit $ 16,699,396,000,000; Statutory Debt Limit $16,699,421,000,000.”
The record for these two entries remained unchanged since May 17, 2013, the first time it recorded the public debt at $16,699,396,000,000.”
The debt limit was raised a short time later. Currently, we have not raised the debt limit yet, and probably will not do so until late fall. According to the Bipartisan Policy Center, a stronger than expected tax season will give policymakers more time to haggle over an increase to the debt limit…An unexpected influx of revenue means that the nation is not expected to be at risk of a catastrophic default until November of December of 2015″
Then, as now, at some point, those transactions suspensions will have to be made up, along with continuing to pay on our obligations. In other words, the Administration is currently picking and choosing what parts of government to fund.
For those who are worried about our public debt, have no fear! The Treasury Department’s FAQ’s already have a solution. Did you know:
“There are two ways for you to make a contribution to reduce the debt:
You can make a contribution online either by credit card, checking or savings account at Pay.gov
You can write a check payable to the Bureau of the Public Debt, and in the memo section, notate that it’s a Gift to reduce the Debt Held by the Public. Mail your check to:
Attn Dept G
Bureau of the Public Debt
P. O. Box 2188
Parkersburg, WV 26106-2188″