By Mike Lillis
Top White House economic adviser Austan Goolsbee warned Sunday that a congressional failure to rise the nation's debt limit early this year would be "catastrophic."
"It pains me that we would even be talking about this," Goolsbee told ABC's "This Week."
"This is not a game. You know, the debt ceiling is not something to toy with. … If we hit the debt ceiling, that's essentially defaulting on our obligations, which is totally unprecedented in American history. The impact on the economy would be catastrophic. I mean, that would be a worse financial economic crisis than anything we saw in 2008."
The current debt limit is $14.3 trillion, which Washington is expected to hit in February. A failure to raise the ceiling would prevent Congress from borrowing funds to pay the country's obligations. Some conservatives — notably many in the incoming class of Tea Party-backed Republicans — are threatening to vote against raising the cap, arguing that the U.S. simply can't afford to rely so heavily on borrowing.
Goolsbee argued Sunday the country can't afford not to.
"If we get to the point where you've damaged the full faith and credit of the United States, that would be the first default in history caused purely by insanity," he said.
"We shouldn't even be discussing that. People will get the wrong idea. The United States is not in danger of default. … This would be lumping us in with a series of countries through history that I don't think we would want to be lumped in with."