The American Federation of Teachers, along with dozens of our union’s partner groups, have called on the U.S. Congress to raise the national ceiling before the country defaults on its debt.
Raising the debt ceiling in no way subjects the country to additional debt by increasing federal spending, it simply frees up the U.S. Treasury to pay off our existing debts so the government can continue to meet previous debt obligations. The debt ceiling is an arbitrarily set limit set by Congress. In the past, bipartisan majorities in Congress have periodically raised the debt ceiling.
If Congress does not raise the debt ceiling, the government will no longer be able to pay its bills. If the government is left unable to pay for Social Security benefits, previously pledged school funding, federal employees’ salaries, and Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements, millions across the country would suffer. Additionally, interest paid by Americans for mortgages, car payments, student loans, and credit cards would skyrocket. Economists predict that a credit default would result in a stock market crash and an estimated 6 million lost jobs, increasing the unemployment rate to 7%.
The debt ceiling should not be leveraged by politicians as a tool for partisan negotiations. Failure to raise the debt ceiling would be catastrophic for all Americans. Congress has a long history of working in a bipartisan manner to raise the debt limit with no strings attached, as was done three times under the Trump administration, and it must do so again as soon as possible.