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Sec. Geithner Tells Rep. Graves Will Have to Raise Debt Ceiling After Election, Blames Past Congress for Fiscal Crisis


Location: Washington, DC

U.S. Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA-09) questioned Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner in a House Appropriations Subcommittee hearing today. During that hearing, Secretary Geithner told Rep. Graves that President Obama will request an additional increase in the debt ceiling before the end of the year, but after the President's November election.

Secretary Geithner also blamed the Congress which ended in 2008 for the nation's fiscal crisis. Rep. Graves reminded the Secretary that President Obama was a member of that Congress.

Clips and Transcripts below:

GRAVES: You talked about the debt limit increase earlier. The question was brought up. And -- and you cast a very broad time frame. You said later this year. There seems to be another big event later this year too. And I'm curious, how are those going to collide. And when do you expect -- or when do you expect the president to formally request raising the debt limit?

And the reason I ask is because you -- you brought up the point that we cannot afford to as a nation to come to that point, that brink again. So as the secretary of the treasury, when do you anticipate giving us advanced notice of that request? And in a hard line, because I remember last time it moved and it moved and it moved and it moved over time. But when -- when do you expect us to see that request?

GEITHNER: Well, remember, when it moves it's because we made -- you know, we -- we have a large economy, $15 trillion economy. I don't know how many million payments we make a month in this context, and those change over time as the economy changes. But we give the Congress a regular estimate of those changes.

And as I said, on current estimates, it'll be very late in the year -- very late in the year. Now, that may change.

GRAVES: So this year...


GRAVES: ... you anticipate this year...

GEITHNER: We do anticipate (inaudible) Congress as you know has legislated a series of provisions that allow us to give you more time to act. We've traditionally employed those. We're transparent with Congress on how we deploy them. And that might buy us a little bit of time. But I think (inaudible) Congress is going to have to act on this before the end of the year.

GRAVES: Before the election...

GEITHNER: No, not before the election.


GEITHNER: Not on current estimates, but before the end of the year.

GRAVES: So you anticipate your office or the president's office requesting this 60 days ahead of the anticipated date to give Congress the time to...


GEITHNER: Well, the law you guys passed requires us to notify Congress when we come within -- I can't -- I think $100 billion (inaudible) I'm not sure. But it's not a date. It's a -- it's a number test (inaudible) and of course we'll meet that test.

GRAVES: Thank you, Madam Chair. Mr. Secretary, quickly before my question, I know you're reflecting on the past and you're talking about the -- the Congress and the problems that the -- the president inherited from the previous Congress. We certainly want to remind everyone that the president was part of that previous Congress and the problems that he inherited being in the Senate. Is that not correct?

GEITHNER: I was referring to the -- the Congress that ended in '08. Because, again it's worth going through this the huge drivers of the increase in debt are -- I mean to be fair they're really about three things. Over the long run, they're about Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and people -- millions retiring.


GRAVES: The president wasn't part of that Congress that ended in '08?

GEITHNER: No, the president -- well I -- I see your point. That's a good point. He was a Senator for two years, you're right. But the...


GRAVES: He had an opportunity to be part of the solution.

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