$2.4 Trillion Would Be Largest Debt-Limit Increase in U.S. History

August 1, 2011 - 10:49 AM
John Boehner and Harry Reid

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). (AP photo/Charles Dharapak)

(CNSNews.com) - The bill to increase the federal debt limit that has been put before Congress today would increase that limit by up to $2.4 trillion, which would be the largest increase in the debt limit in U.S. history by a margin of half a trillion dollars, according to records published by the Government Accountability Office and the Congressional Research Service.

In fact, according to records published by the Congressional Research Service, if the current bill is passed and the debt limit is increased by $2.4 trillion, the two largest debt-limit increases in U.S. history would come in back-to-back years, both during the presidency of Barack Obama.

Up until now, the largest increase in the debt limit was the $1.9 trillion increase passed by Congress and signed by President Obama on Feb. 12, 2010. That law increased the debt limit from $12.394 trillion to $14.294 trillion.

Up until now, the second largest historical increase in the debt limit was enacted on March 27, 2003, when President George W. Bush signed a law that lifted the limit by $984 billion—from $6.400 trillion to $7.384 trillion.

The third largest historical increase in the debt limit was enacted on Nov. 5, 1990, when the senior President George Bush signed a law that lifted the limit by $915 billion—from $3.230 trillion to $4.145 trillion.

Prior to Sept. 28, 1987, the Treasury did not have the legal authority to run a national debt of $2.4 trillion—let alone increase the debt limit by that amount. On that date, President Reagan signed a law lifting the debt limit by $448 billion—from $2.352 trillion to $2.8 trillion.

The total debt of the federal government did not hit $2.4 trillion until November 1987, according to the U.S. Treasury Department. According to Treasury’s Monthly Statements of the Public Debt, the national debt equaled $2.3848 trillion at the end of October 1987 and $2.409572 trillion by the end of November 1987.