By Peter Schroeder - 05/12/11 06:06 PM EDT
Now Republicans are asking exactly what those "extraordinary measures" entail, where government dollars will be allocated and spent as those measures are put into place, and for a 25-year history of the government using those tools to deal with an exhausted debt limit.
In an appendix to an April 4 letter to Congress on the debt limit, Geithner detailed four extraordinary measures the Treasury can take this time around, noting that previous Treasury Secretaries had taken different measures in the past that were now either "unavailable or of limited use." Those steps would free up roughly $165 billion in headroom, as the government adds roughly $125 billion in debt a month, the letter stated. He also noted that all these measures had been employed in the past.
With Republicans and Democrats engaged in a heated debate over how to raise the debt limit, many are expecting the fight over raising the ceiling to go into the eleventh hour.
On one side, Democrats are trying to paint Republicans as being reckless with the nation's economy, saying brinksmanship on the debt limit could roil financial markets and endanger the nation's sterling credit reputation.
On the other, Republicans are demanding major spending cuts in exchange for their support in raising the limit. While GOP leaders have acknowledged the limit will eventually need to go up, they still hope to use the vote as a key leverage point in winning significant concessions.
This post updated at 6:40 pm.