Obama Asks Congress to Lift Debt Ceiling by Another $1.2 Trillion

January 12, 2012 - 5:42 PM

Obama Lunch

President Barack Obama. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

(CNSNews.com) – President Obama has sent a letter to Congress saying that the government is within $100 billion of its $15.2 trillion debt ceiling and that it must be raised immediately.

“I hereby certify that the debt subject to limit is within $100,000,000,000 of the limit in 31 U.S.C. 3101(b) and that further borrowing is required to meet existing commitment,” the letter states.

Now that Obama has sent the letter, Congress has 15 days to pass a resolution of disapproval or the debt ceiling will rise automatically by $1.2 trillion, according to the terms of the August debt ceiling compromise.

When the August deal was cut between Republicans, Democrats, and the White House, the debt ceiling was immediately raised $400 billion and then another $500 billion in October.  Now it is expected to be raised at least $1.2 trillion more.

Prior to the August deal, 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.

Republicans, Boehner, Cantor, health care

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), left, and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

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.

According to the U.S. Treasury, the total national debt as of Jan. 11, 2012,  was $15.236 trillion.