The US Debt Ceiling: What It Is and Why It Matters

Episode #31

Politicians are once again preparing to play the world’s dumbest game of chicken over the national debt ceiling.

Last week, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned that the country is on track to hit the debt ceiling — the maximum amount of money that the federal government can borrow to meet funding needs.

The news has prompted warnings from economists about a potential fiscal crisis if Congress doesn’t take action soon. But it’s not clear whether congressional leaders will agree to raise the debt ceiling without strings attached.

In today’s episode, Dylan explains what the debt ceiling is and how it works, what will happen if Congress doesn’t raise it, and why it matters to the average American.

Show Highlights

  • [01:50] What the debt ceiling is
  • [04:58] The debt ceiling through the years
  • [07:15] How the debt ceiling works
  • [11:49] What the debt ceiling fight boils down to
  • [13:28] What will happen if Congress doesn’t raise the debt ceiling
  • [18:22] The likely bargaining chips in the debt ceiling fight
  • [21:25] The bottom line of the debt ceiling fight

Links & Resources



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