Federal Debt Jumped Another $63.7 Billion in February—Even as Treasury Drained $158.5 Billion From Its Cash Reserves

By Terence P. Jeffrey | March 1, 2011 | 4:32 PM EST

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner with President Obama at the White House. (AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) - The net national debt increased by $63.7 billion in February—hitting $14.195 trillion ($14,194,764,339,462.64) at the end of the month--even as the Obama administration began draining the Treasury’s cash reserves in order to keep federal borrowing down and push back the date when the government will hit the statutory debt limit.

At the close of business on Jan. 31, the total federal debt stood at $14.131 trillion ($14,131,051,056,010.84), according to the Treasury Department’s Bureau of the Public Debt. At the close of business on Feb. 28, it stood at $14.195 trillion ($14,194,764,339,462.64), an increase of $63.713  billion ($63,713,283,451.80) in new debt that was accumulated during the shortest month of the year.

To save the government from having to borrow even more money in February, the Treasury significantly diminished the balance in its cash accounts, according to the department’s Daily Treasury Report released today. At the beginning of the month, Treasury’s cash balances equaled $349.1 billion. At the end of the month, they were down to $190.6 billion—a drop of $158.5 billion.

In January, the federal debt had increased by $105.8 billion, according to the Treasury, but in that month the Treasury did not drain its cash reserves. In fact, it marginally increased them. At the beginning of January, according to Daily Treasury Report for Jan. 31, the Treasury's cash balance stood at $342.7 billion and at the end of January it stood at $349.1 billion.

In October, at the beginning of fiscal year 2011, according to the Daily Treasury Report, the government's cash balance was $309.8 billion.

As of now, federal law limits the Treasury to $14.294 trillion in debt. (N.b. A very small portion of the total of $14.195 trillion in debt reported as of today does not apply to this debt limit.) For the Treasury to borrow more than the debt limit of $14.294 trillion, Congress must pass, and President Barack Obama must sign, legislation extending the limit.

Currently, Congress is busy working to enact legislation—a continuing resolution--to keep the government funded for two more weeks after March 4. When that continuing resolution expires, Congress will need to enact another one to keep the government funded through Sept. 30, when fiscal 2011 ends.

According to the Office of Management and Budget, the federal government is on track to spend about $3.818 trillion in this fiscal year, running a deficit of deficit of $1.645 trillion.